Aloha to My Safeway Family

There’s one thing people in Hawaii love to do and it doesn’t matter which island you’re on or which side of town — we love to eat! Restaurants are a great thing but our menu items are often, much like us, an ethnic blend of recipes we have tweaked and morphed to our own liking. This is where our local grocery stores come into the picture and take on the highest priority!

Safeway's Interior Signage

I never noticed this sign until I was walking around with a camera. I never noticed the other half of it either… Safeway has been in Honolulu as long as I have! I knew there was something good about this place. Works for me!

More internal signage

It was three and a half years ago that I wrote a letter to Safeway’s corporate office in Arizona. I couldn’t think of any other way to let them know how pleased I was with my favorite grocery store. I opened the letter saying,

“Sometimes it really pains me that there is nothing that can be done by a consumer to fully show their earnest appreciation for the staff of an establishment like this one.”

I think the management and staff at the store appreciated hearing it because they probably don’t hear it often enough. However, I don’t think the corporate office felt the full impact that the letter was intended to deliver.

Honolulu Hale Christmas TreeSo, in light of the current Holiday season, and because I’m able to do this, I want to share some of those sentiments with everyone by sharing a little pictorial visit to my favorite grocery store. In reality, it was several visits, at several different times of the day, that allowed me to gather these pictures. I still ended up missing several people, even though this post has been in the planning stage for quite some time!

I started this back in May. I was hoping to catch store workers in aloha attire back on May Day or during Aloha Week. It didn’t work out exactly as I planned but that’s okay. I couldn’t have hoped for it to come to fruition at a better time!

Merry Christmas Pali Safeway!

I know what you’re thinking… you’re thinking, “but that’s a mainland store.” Yeah, Safeway is a big mainland corporation. But, it’s not the corporate office that has to deal with an often-volatile customer base, it’s not the office in Arizona who creates the ohana environment that we all look for wherever we go.

It’s the living part of the store — the checkers, the stock personnel, the customer service providers and the tolerant managers — who breathe life into the rows of lifeless cans, bottles and boxes. They are the ones who provide the personality that is so essential to any successful business!

The Store

While my priority is always food, it is not the only product or service this store has to offer. There are a lot of things available in this little shopping arena. If you need assistance or have questions, the customer service counter is there waiting to assist you.

Customer Service Counter

That’s Robin on the right. She or anyone else at the customer service counter will answer your questions, show you how to get a club card, or even assist you with sending money via Western Union!

Florist Area

There is one customer need that is often a hurried one — the need to get flowers, balloons or gift certificates… quickly! The beauty of the store’s layout is that the floral stuff is connected to the customer service counter.

The best part is that all of this is located, not so coincidentally I’m sure, at the front of the store as soon as you enter.

Taking care of the produce There’s staff available to help you throughout the store too, so there’s no worry there!

Busily at work but always willing to answer produce questions, this is Fred on the right taking care of the vegetables.

Hawaii has had a problem recently with a little bit too much rainy weather. The vegetables have not been the beautiful ones we’re used to.

I must say that these didn’t seem to suffer much. It’s just nice to see an abundance of neatly laid out veggies all nice and neat and clean. I’m just weird like that I guess.

Vegetable Produce

Many of the vegetables and fruits are something we need to fly in. Of course the pineapple brought over from Maui is about as sweet as you’ll find!

Fruit in the produce section

Tim with staff from Corporate OfficeThere is, of course, an abundance of cold cuts and cheeses — some we’re all familiar with and others that are sometimes a curiosity.

Over here next to the Oscar Mayer bologna we run into Tim, one of the store’s managers, talking to someone from the corporate office (as I was told because I’m nosy and had to ask).

They were busy, of course, so Tim chased me away to go take pictures of his Cinco De Mayo display. So, I did. I told you guys it was May when I started this thing!

Cinco de Mayo display

This little display is a classic example of the store’s managers doing a lot of multi-tasking. They are often required to step up to the plate to cover many bases on any given day. I was fortunate to catch much of these moments to share.

The Staff

Les fixing shelves

Bert helping at the checkout

On the left, I caught Pali Safeway’s store manager, Les Shimizu, hard at work at the front of the store. On the right, I have another shift manager, Bert, bagging groceries for customers. (I think they’re called shift managers. Someone can correct me later.) While these staff members may be labeled manager, you will often find them multi-tasking. While doing their assigned duties, they may also be looking for things for customers, rearranging shelves or bagging groceries.

Below we have David on the left, Royden in the middle, and Chuck, another manager, on the right. Chuck was always filling in on the registers whenever checkers were scarce, and customers weren’t chasing him all over the place looking for stuff. 🙂 I say “was” because he was moved over to the new store that just opened in Kapahulu.

David, Royden and Chuck at the checkout

I nicknamed Chuck, Houdini, because he could always find the things I was looking for that had vanished from the shelves. I’m not too happy about losing Chuck, but I guess the new Kapahulu store needs a good manager too. Yeah, whatever.

It is at this point that I want to take another quote from my letter. I said that this store is “truly the Cheers of grocery stores.” There’s nothing like walking into a business where they’re genuinely happy to see you! We all connect with people wherever we go, but so many at the same time? Did I use the word ohana yet?

Anyway, Royden was teaching at Nanakuli High School. Hey, a teacherBarbara at the checkout who works on the Leeward side of the island — well that was an instant connection! David is new to me but that will take care of itself in time.

This is Barbara to the right. She is the queen of non-profit collections. The prostate cancer and breast cancer campaigns couldn’t have found a better fund raiser! Of course it always helps to have a captive audience.

Checker, Denice, hard at workThis is especially true when you want to take pictures of people when they don’t want you to. Denice, left, didn’t want her picture taken and tried very hard to hide behind the groceries she was bagging. It didn’t work — like I said, captive audience!

I couldn’t help it. She is the cutest thing with a warm, fun-loving personality to match.

There were several people who were happy to have their picture taken and others who just went along with it to get me out of their hair!

Wanda at the checkoutWanda, here on the right, is another one of the checkers I look forward to seeing! She is also the fastest key-punch I’ve seen in quite some time! I usually try to catch Wanda on my way into the store just to say hello before I lose her to her lunch or dinner break — I almost always catch her at the wrong time. She is very focused on her work but she is also very warm and observant.

As I’m writing this I am constantly reminded of the span of time that has gone by and that I seem to have so much more history with this store than I even realized.

Stephen and Cindy

This is Stephen and Cindy. Stephen does the activity planning for the store employees. I have an icky feeling that Stephen may be just a step away from a manager title, which is fine and well-deserved, but, I’m worried we may lose him to Kapahulu as well. I’m just thinking out loud. If it happens then I can say, “See? I told you so! Dammit!”

Lila and Kellie

Lila and Kellie are two of the happiest, bubbliest ladies! They always have a pleasant greeting and stories to share. Someone was concerned that someone told me something they shouldn’t have. Lila responded, “but that’s Evelyn, she’s family.” I was a little stunned by that remark, but it warmed my heart and made me smile. It still does whenever I remember and think about it. I did say ohana didn’t I?

Drew and Gary

Here are Drew and Gary. We lost Drew for a bit but we got him back! Hooray! Drew has been around longer than even he remembers.

Karen and Aulden

This is Karen and Aulden who, again, are always smiling those genuine smiles.

Glen and Andrew

Here are more smiles from Glen and Andrew. I haven’t been through Glen’s line very much lately. I’m usually in the store later in the evening so I’m not always there when my favorites are working. Um, that would mean everyday three or four times a day. I used to do everyday twice a day! Honest!

Safeway Deli

While the whole store works very hard, it is the Deli that seems to involve the most rigorous amount of work. They cook, they clean, they serve and still they smile. I missed getting a good picture and I missed getting a picture of Cori, the Deli manager. I have seen that woman earn her pay many times over, and then some!

Bernard and Will

This is Bernard and Will. Bernard used to work in the Deli. He made the best sandwiches! But, he’s a checker now — a checker on the graveyard shift. Will, shown here packing groceries, was also working that same overnight shift, but he left for the mainland a few months ago. We’re still waiting for him to boomerang his way back. Will didn’t want his picture taken either.

Meat on display

I don’t see much of the meat people. I just get to admire their work! I have many times been struck with a “I gotta have that” delicious-looking, Rancher’s Reserve roast!


Let’s not forget the seafood! There’s a lot of seafood to be had here too! Aside from all the food and the hard work, let’s insert a little note about community involvement.

Susan Komen Race for the Cure

Don’t even start to think that they’re not involved with the community! Every year the Hawaii Safeway Stores support the Susan Komen Race for the Cure in the fight against breast cancer.

Below, staff are seen at the end of the 2007 Great Aloha Run — not because of the store but just because they wanted to be there. (Side Note: I’ll be talking about the 2008 Great Aloha Run a little later too!)

2007 Great Aloha Run

In closing, Safeway may be a mainland corporation but the lifeblood that runs through the Hawaii stores is our own! Pali Safeway is a perfect example of that and they have done an excellent job of maintaining and keeping the aloha alive.

Their biggest problem? Keeping me supplied with Safeway’s mixed fruit jelly, dill relish, cottage cheese with pineapple and bottled jalapeno peppers! Of course having some 20 oz bottles of diet Mountain Dew on hand would be nice too. Right now the managers are reading this and saying, “Oh no, there she goes!” Well… Pepsi’s local office says all you have to do is ask. Put them on the order and they will bring them. Trust me, you’ll have trouble keeping me supplied with those too! 🙂 Just ask 7-11 or my poor husband!

Suggestions to the corporate office? The staff should get a raise, they should get a Christmas bonus and the store should get new restrooms. Oh come on now, you know I couldn’t get through this without making some kind of trouble! Mahalo for everything gang, you guys are the best!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone at my “friendly neighborhood Pali Safeway!”

Pali Safeway Store in the Evening


 |  digg this! digg | stumble this! stumble | submit to reddit! reddit | tag this 
Related Stories:

11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Dudleys Diary // Dec 25, 2007 at 6:17 am

    Merry Christmas

  • 2 Evelyn // Dec 25, 2007 at 7:01 am

    Good morning and Merry Christmas to you Dudley! 🙂

  • 3 HawaiiVacationGifts // Dec 27, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    I have shopped at the Pali Safeway and twenty something years ago I was at the midnight grand opening of the Kailua Safeway!

  • 4 Evelyn // Dec 27, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    I wish I could say that I was at the grand opening of the store! *Sniff!* That would have been so cool! But, I think it happened way before I was able to be there! 🙂 Is there a Safeway anywhere near you now, Cheryl? Of course you can always shop online! I’ve never tried it myself but the store is very convenient for me. I know you guys are a bit removed from things.

  • 5 Don’t Miss the Train Ride! // Dec 31, 2007 at 12:08 am

    […] Homespun Honolulu wraps up the gift giving for this holiday Carnival by sending, Aloha to My Safeway Family for Christmas […]

  • 6 skeet // Dec 31, 2007 at 10:06 pm

    I do most of my grocery shopping at Tamura because I like to support Waianae Coast businesses, but I stop at the Kapolei Safeway at least once a week for stuff I can’t find in Waianae. My Safeway experience is much like yours, though I don’t go quite as often as you! You’ve done a very nice tribute to some hard-working folks! Great inclusion for the Carnival!

  • 7 Evelyn // Jan 1, 2008 at 2:23 am

    Thanks Skeet! Kapolei is on my internal list of good places to go. I’m not sure if they still have the same butcher but Kapolei Safeway gave us some nice looking short ribs, made to order for what Mom was looking for and at her request! Aside from that, it’s a comfortable place to shop. 🙂 Oh, and their Deli manager used to be manager at Pali Safeway’s Deli. Another great lady!

  • 8 Kevin // Jan 20, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Having transfered to the new Kapahulu store, I do know Chuck…and yes he’s like houdini. The “shift managers” are called grocery managers.

    My original store was Kapolei, so the last comments brought a smile to my face as I know many of the workers.

  • 9 Evelyn // Jan 20, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Hi Kevin! I’m glad it wasn’t just my imagination — do remind him that he’s a magician okay? 🙂 For the record, Kapolei would be my 2nd choice. I haven’t decided about Kapahulu yet.

  • 10 S // Nov 7, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Does anyone know what happened to Tim? He’s not a Pali Safeway anymore.

  • 11 Evelyn // Nov 11, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Hi S,

    The last I heard, Tim was at the Enchanted Lake store. I would try calling them to see. If not, try Salt Lake. I’ve had trouble keeping track myself. Sigh.

    Ewa Beach will be opening soon and we will be losing more of our darlings at the Pali store. Not happy about that, let me tell you. [Grrr!]

    I’m still worried they will take our store away altogether. Bigger sigh.

Leave a Comment