It was small, perhaps not 100% clean at all times, no fish counter, and any number of other complaints could be made about Zombie Safeway. And I had forgotten that its closure was due at least in part to code violations (shocking — shocking!!). But I don’t think its closure and zombification should be so easily dismissed, which is why I keep bringing it up. The Wheaton Safeway matters, for several reasons.
First, it wasn’t actually a bad store. It looked bad, or at least old — or, more charitably, “classic”! — but as is the case elsewhere in Wheaton, one shouldn’t judge a store (or restaurant) by the view from the street. Inside, too, it was imperfect, as with fish and cleanliness (maybe more accurately ”orderliness”) mentioned above, but on the other hand it had surprisingly good quality produce, which was consistently better than the produce at the disappointing, newish Kensington Safeway.
We never did our major weekly shopping at the Wheaton Safeway, but we used it all the time for last-minute produce, dairy, or dry goods needs, primarily because it is far more convenient for us than braving mall traffic to get to Giant or going all the way up to H-Mart, which is fine for regular shopping but too far for a post-work quick trip. So convenience, for all of us in the East-of-Georgia and South-of-University quadrant, is point two. Happily, Hung Phat and Latino Mercado (and in a real pinch 7-Eleven) help fill the gap, but even combined they don’t have the product coverage that even a small Safeway has.
Three, the Safeway project is (I think) becoming symbolic of Wheaton’s would-be economic upgrade, and having the Zombie sit there, the little economic engine who can’t, is bad for morale and a sign that revitalization may still be far off in the distance. Now that Safeway is closed and the project is approved, starting demolition and putting the project in motion will be both symbolic and meaningful. Limbo makes me nervous; I worry that Wheaton is Vladimir and Godot ain’t coming.
I like zombies, poor innocent victims of anti-undead discrimination — although they seem relatively welcome in certain parts of MoCo. But I think there are better uses for this particular space. And I’ve never been very good at waiting patiently…