An In-Depth Breakdown of Harris Teeter and Safeway

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An In-Depth Breakdown of Harris Teeter and Safeway

Philip Blumberg, Sentry Staff Reporter

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It is 3:20 on a Friday afternoon, and throngs of students are dispersed along the sidewalk on Harrison Street. The mobs are all walking in one direction, almost mindlessly, stuck in their haze of conversation. They all share one common goal: reaching the Harrison-Lee shopping center. 

The legendary Harrison Shopping Center is a central gathering hub for both Williamsburg Middle School and students at our school. It has food varieties for everyone, headlined by favorites like Duck Donuts, Elevation Burger and Chesapeake Bagel. Many students flock to the two competing grocery stores: Harris Teeter and Safeway. 

Harris Teeter possesses many advantages over Safeway. It is located at the end of the strip mall, meaning students at any other store can get there easily. Safeway, on the other hand, requires students to make a perilous trip across the street, where there is only one crosswalk. It is much more convenient for shoppers and  students to stop by Harris Teeter while also visiting other stores in the complex. 

Recently, Harris Teeter underwent an enormous renovation that revamped the layout of the store. Now, the first thing shoppers encounter as they come in is a fresh salad bar and a monstrous hot-food section, chock-full of options like rotisserie chicken, subs, pizza and more. This variety of easy-to-eat, hot food makes Harris Teeter more appealing to students. Since the store’s renovation, customers can easily pick up a full meal. 

Harris Teeter also looks the part. It is considerably larger than Safeway, with a second floor for specialty items in addition to the normal aisles and hot food section. The brightness and inviting aura of the store greatly outweighs that of Safeway, which seems dark and unwelcoming. Customers there are clearly valued, as anyone can grab a free cookie on their way out – something students have been banking on for years. The free cookies are so popular that on Friday’s, students often have to rush to the store to ensure that they get one before they run out. 

Free samples are also a big advantage of  Harris Teeter. Customers can find small stands of self-serve samples sprawled across the first floor. The stands are conveniently placed near the main entrance, so students can walk in and immediately grab a fresh piece of fruit or bread. 

The biggest reason to go to Safeway is pricing. Their food is considerably cheaper than anything sold at Harris Teeter, with lower baselines and more discounts. Safeway’s aisles are dotted with red sale stickers, something that is rarer across the street. There are better deals for shoppers – a popular purchase is the Safeway Kitchen cookie box, which contains around 50 cookies, either M&M or chocolate chip, for only $5.  

Safeway’s baseline pricing is also significantly cheaper than Harris Teeter’s. A cluster of bananas at Safeway is $0.59 a pound, while the same thing at Harris Teeter is $0.65 a pound. For students looking for some sweets on a Friday, they have to pay $0.30 more for Sour Patch Kids at Harris Teeter, and $0.70 more for Oreos. These differences in price can be a huge factor for shoppers choosing between the two stores. 

Another factor that can sway customers into choosing Safeway over Harris Teeter is parking availability. The plethora of options at the Harrison-Lee shopping center means the parking lot is almost always overflowing, especially in the evening or on the weekend, when there are the most shoppers. While it can be a hassle just to get into Harris Teeter, Safeway’s parking lot is big enough to handle all customer traffic with ease. This means that shoppers might have a better experience at Safeway as a whole; however, students from our school are not conflicted with this problem as almost all of them are on foot. 

Harris Teeter and Safeway have been competing for customers on Harrison Street for years. While students at our school are divided on the subject, Harris Teeter is clearly the superior store. There are far better options and amenities at Harris Teeter, and it is right on the main strip of the shopping center. Unfortunately, shoppers have to pay a prettier penny there.