Safeway’s 1980 Annual Report: Growth in Texas, New concepts elsewhere

Howdy folks, and welcome back to Houston Historic Retail. Today we’re taking a break from the norm and checking out some new photos. I was recently tipped off by a reader of an opportunity to purchase some old Safeway Annual Reports. While the reports are available online, the photos I have uploaded provide far greater detail. A few of today’s photos will come from a Texas location, 1820 N Loy Lake Rd, Sherman, TX 75090, which, while not in the Houston division, is still open to this day as a Kroger. Other photos will be of various other Safeway concepts in various states. I would also like to thank those who have donated to Houston Historic Retail. Your funds went to help make this purchase!

Lets start out with the cover photo. The Sherman Texas Safeway was the first planned combination food and drug store opened by Safeway. This strategy would influence the next 20 years of retailing.

“We believe the Super Store, with its multiple attractions of selection, convenience, and service, meets the needs of the majority of our customers and will be the predominant outlet of the [80s]. However, we will be adapting our merchandising strategies to appeal to a diverse range of consumer interests, some of which can be served more effectively in specialized store formats.”

Safeway debuted its Super Store concept in the 70s and was in full swing by the 80s. Instead of the combination Food and Drug Stores mentioned above, Super Stores sold groceries alongside general merchandise and electronics.

“In keeping with our ongoing commitment to the one-stop shopping concept, the vast majority of our full-service supermarkets opened in fiscal 1980 are in the Super Store category. The additional sales area in these outlets has enabled us to carry a broader, more profitable product mix and to include special features not usually found in conventional stores.”

“Today, in addition to a much wider assortment of seasonal domestic items, even in mid-February, Safeway produce fixtures may display exotic imports such as kiwi fruit, papayas, and mangos alongside more common but out-of-season items such as fresh strawberries and cherries.”

Pharmacy locations inside grocery stores were still a novel idea at the time, but by 1980 Safeway had already added them to nearly 100 stores.

“A major development in this regard is an ambitious program to equip many of our larger stores with full-line pharmacies. In the past year, we installed 90 pharmacies and plan to add 205 more in 1981, which would bring the year-end total to 305. Beyond the potential for extra sales in dispensing prescriptions, having a pharmacist on hand to answer customers’ questions about related items typically results in substantially higher sales of health and beauty aids as well.”

Safeway was also looking for ways to keep up with changing consumer demands, such as adding a nutrition department in hundreds of locations.

“Another Safeway innovation is the complete natural food center, a separate in-store section stocking up to 3,000 high volume items usually sold in health food stores. Consumer demand for such products, particularly among younger shoppers, has been strong and is increasing steadily. We operated 458 of these centers at year-end 1980 and expect to have a total of well over 700 in place by the end of 1981.”

Safeway’s success expanded into multiple continents, as evidenced by this photo of a Deli/Bakery in a West German Safeway.

“283 in Canada, 89 in the United Kingdom, 25 in West Germany, and 72 in Australia. Foreign operations continued to perform well under mixed conditions. In the United Kingdom for instance, excellent results were achieved despite a very difficult economic environment that depressed the earnings reported by many competitors.”

Town House Food Stores was a concept of small, upscale, downtown markets in dense metro areas like Washington, D.C. While the idea lasted for a few years, it didn’t ever expand past a few locations.

“Our small Town House Stores, serving office workers and high-rise apartment and condominium dwellers in the Washington, D.C. area, feature a wide assortment of international foods, fine wines, and premium quality meat, produce, and deli items.”

“Some of our existing stores present excellent opportunities for other forms of diversification. By the year’s end, we had converted to alternate uses 33 older stores we otherwise would have closed. Twinty-six of these locations were reopened during the year as Food Barns “no frills” food outlets with limited selections of groceries, meat, and produce. Most products are displayed in bulk bins or in shipping cases on wire racks, and customers bag or box their purchases themselves.”

“We also opened eight Liquor Barns in former Safeway supermarkets. These are now warehouse-type beverage stores stocking up to 2,500 varieties of imported and domestic liquor, beer, and wine at exceptionally low prices. As a diversified retailer capable of satisfying a wide spectrum of consumer shopping preferences, we believe Safeway is in a strong position to achieve steady growth in the intensely competitive environment of the eighties.”

“In another diversification effort, last November, we converted a store in Utah to a home improvement center. It’s staffed by experienced management and salespeople and carries a full line of building materials, tools, and garden supplies. Operating at this prototype store will enable us to evaluate our prospects for further involvement in the fast-growing and profitable “do it yourself market. In our joint venture with Holly Farms Poultry Industries Inc., we opened four more fried chicken and seafood take-out restaurants. At year-end, we operated 52 outlets in four Southeastern states and the District of Columbia.”


In 1980, Safeway had many irons in many different fires. While diversity can be a vital source of growth, as evident by this annual report, it does create some risks. By 1982, Safeway was aware they needed to bolster control of their company by generating cash. Some of the earliest division sell-offs would occur during this time. Still, even those wouldn’t be enough to prevent the 1986 buyout attempt that eventually triggered Safeway’s exit from Houston and AppleTree‘s entry.


  1. These are some wonderful photos, thanks for getting those annual reports! My local Safeway Super Store, the Cypress N Houston & Huffmeister location, opened in 1980 so it likely had a lot in common with that Sherman store. That said the Sherman store has a slightly different exterior design than the Cypress N Houston & Huffmeister location and that store’s sister store in Brookhollow Village which also opened in 1980. I personally prefer the sleeker look of the Houston locations, but perhaps I am biased towards those stores!

    The Sherman store is interesting in that it is a Krogway now with Kroger abandoning a nearby Greenhouse store in order to move into the Safeway. The Sherman Safeway was unusually large for a Safeway of that era and I suppose that’s why Kroger wanted to ‘upgrade’ into that spot when it became available. The long queue of happy looking shoppers waiting to get into the Sherman store at the grand opening of it certainly shows that Texas shoppers weren’t ‘oppressed’ to have to shop at a store run by a Californian chain as we hear so often these days from those influenced by the Kerrville propaganda machine.

      1. Yes, both the Brookhollow Village and the Cypress N Houston & Huffmeister Safeways opened with pharmacies. Both also had an Eckerd in their shopping centers. Those looking for a pharmacy had their options!