Safeway set to open Sunset Square store Feb. 6

Residents are about to get a new grocery chain, one that intends to look familiar with a plethora of locally made products.

The Safeway store at Sunset Square and its nearby gas station are expected to open at 8 a.m. Friday, Feb. 6. The first 1,000 customers at the store will receive a collapsible tote bag, said Sara Osborne, a spokeswoman for the company.

The 67,000-square-foot store will be open 24 hours a day, while the gas station will have its kiosk open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The fuel pumps will be available 24 hours a day.

The upcoming opening represents a return to the Bellingham market for Safeway. The company has a store in Lynden, but it left Bellingham when it closed its remaining store in 1993.

“We’ve wanted to come back to Bellingham for a while,” Osborne said. “But we were waiting for the right opportunity.”

The new store is also providing a boost to local employment. The store is employing more than 200 people, with 85 percent being new hires. Mike Eagle will manage the store.

Safeway has a variety of specialty departments carrying local products. Items in the meat department, for example, includes SeaBear wild salmon, Taylor Shellfish and Hempler’s meats. The bakery will have items from Avenue Bread and Chuckanut Bay Cheesecake.

The store also will have its own full-service growler section. Customers can purchase a bottle and choose from a selection of 10 locally brewed beers like Wander Bellingham Uncommon. Osborne said they put in the company’s first growler station in Portland, Ore., that proved to be really popular.

Osborne said the store plans on being very responsive to customer requests, especially when it comes to locally made products. With the recent completion of the Albertsons-Safeway merger, the company now has more flexibility, she said.

The store also features a pharmacy, Starbucks and an Industrial Credit Union branch. The Starbucks kiosk will have a seating area and a fireplace. The credit union branch will be the eighth in Whatcom County; it plans on giving away gifts during its grand opening celebration Feb. 6-7. Credit union hours inside the Safeway store will be 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.