Steady as she goes, North Park Haggen
  • Steady as she goes, North Park Haggen
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The staffing cutbacks announced July 14 for Haggen supermarkets throughout Southern California have included San Diego.

A conversation July 15 with two North Park Haggen employees (who had to remain anonymous) revealed that the store had “laid off four employees” and some full-time employees have gone to part-time status.

That store, at 2235 University Avenue, has shown an obvious reduction in business since it was an Albertsons store. Lines are not long at checkout counters, and there's always plenty of parking available. An employee said that while the North Park outlet has slowed down, “we're doing better” than the Mission Hills Haggen store at 422 W. Washington Street, right across from a large Vons store.

The Reader requested more information about the North Park and other San Diego County Haggen stores from both the company's Pacific Southwest division and its public relations company, but there was no immediate response.

According to hoovers.com, the company was founded in 1933 in Bellingham, Washington. “In 2011, private equity firm Comvest acquired a majority stake in the chain.”

Industry analysts had predicted months ago that Haggen's entry into the Southern California grocery business would prove difficult.

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Comments

Ken Harrison July 16, 2015 @ 8:55 a.m.

This was obvious to anyone that lives in SoCal. Our grocery stores are personal; their names, location, layout of the isles, prices, products carried. The big four grocery stores have to compete with Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and Sprouts. Haggen thought it would waltz right in, triple its chain's locations, and sell to a new market that it knew nothing about. This one bad move could end up killing the whole company.

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dwbat July 16, 2015 @ 9:41 a.m.

I agree, Ken. Their North Park property (a square block!) is worth $millions, and could become high-rise apartments. There are many other stand-alone Haggen stores, where the land is worth more than the stores. Some future closures/selloffs wouldn't surprise me. Equity firms always exist to maximize profits, so their bean-counters may already be talking to commercial real estate companies. Or supermarket-industry billionaire Ron Burkle may be sniffing out opportunities.

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Ponzi July 28, 2015 @ 5:48 p.m.

How many of lots are owned by Haggen? My guess is very few. The lot's are probably 20 to 30 year leases that Haggen assumed. I read that Haggen "bought the stores and inventory" but nothing about real estate.

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dwbat Aug. 3, 2015 @ 3:43 a.m.

I don't know if they own the real estate or not. And the Haggen PR flacks (internal and external) apparently don't like questions from the media. When I asked some specific questions sometime back from their Director of Communications in Irvine, I only received a useless, canned statement from the CEO.

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danfogel July 16, 2015 @ 9:44 a.m.

"Industry analysts had predicted months ago that Haggen's entry into the Southern California grocery business would prove difficult."

Well golly gee wiz. Only a moron COULDN'T have predicted that.

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Ponzi July 16, 2015 @ 9:49 a.m.

I knew this would be a failure. I lived in Seattle for 5 years. It is just a different vibe, attitude and people. There is no state income tax in Washington. The state sales tax is 6.5% Unlike San Diego and much of southern California, the locals there seem to remain locals. Also, the people in the Puget Sound area just make more money and keep more of what they earn. There is Boeing (tons of high paying union jobs), the US Navy has a big presence (like San Diego), fisheries, lumber, paper, and then all the big company headquarters; Amazon, Alaska Airlines, Paccar, Costco, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Microsoft, Nintendo, Safeco and many more large firms. Haggen must have thought the roads in California were paved with gold also. They did not do a market study or competitive analysis apparently.

They have regional stores like QFC, Fred Meyer and PCC Natural Markets. And though Trader Joe's and Whole Foods have moved in, Seattle still does not have a intensely competitive grocery market. I loved Pike Place Market so much that is was where I did much of my fresh meat and produce shopping on a weekly basis.

It was arrogance to think they could just rebrand a bunch of large grocery stores and make a go of it. They said they positioned themselves to be "between a Vons and Whole Foods." What they did was offer the same products as a Vons at the prices of Whole Foods. I feel bad for the people who enjoyed the prior grocery chain operators because I believe this is not going to end well. My prediction is they are going to have to pull out altogether. Will it be an auction to another grocer or will it be a fiasco and become a hundred empty spaces in all the shopping centers where locals could once walk to shop for their groceries?

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dwbat July 16, 2015 @ 10:07 a.m.

I can see the "vultures" starting to circle, as they view a severely-wounded animal.

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bbq July 16, 2015 @ 10:14 a.m.

The rub of all this is Haggen got a good deal investing into our area due to the Vons/Albertson merger. They have missed the mark so far but any change takes awhile to be adopted.
The real tradgedy is to the workers who chose to stay with their stores and go with Haggen and to the communities the stores are located if they end up closing.

While the government's "Protecting" the consumer/us from a Vons/Albertsons monopoly or control of Southern California Supermarkets, the unintended outcome will be fewer jobs and less food outlets in the region. BBQ

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dwbat July 16, 2015 @ 10:20 a.m.

My guess is that remaining Haggen staffers are polishing up their resumes, just in case.

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Ponzi July 16, 2015 @ 10:26 a.m.

That's so true. In this case the government "antitrust" laws may wind up making a bigger mess. The prices at these stores are higher. So how did the government help keep the market competitive? Also, there are so many other players in the market; Kiels, Windmill Farms, Sprouts, 99 Cent Stores, Costco, Target, Walmart, Whole Foods, Stater Brothers...

Yet this same government cannot seem to protect us from SDG&E or the oil refiners that rip us off year after year with their monopolies.

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dwbat July 16, 2015 @ 10:44 a.m.

CVS stores stock a lot of grocery items, too. Amazon offers competitive grocery prices, with drop off at your door. Will Haggen still be around in 2016? Nobody in the federal govt. will stand up to the giant utility and oil companies. We could sure use a courageous "trust-buster" like Teddy Roosevelt now.

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Ponzi July 16, 2015 @ 10:52 a.m.

That's right, I have Amazon Prime, but have not tried their grocery service. I guess I am still soured by my experience with HomeGrocer.com from back in the dot-com boom. The problem with home delivery is that they pick your fruit and veggies, meats and dairy... I just like to get that stuff using my own eyeballs.

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dwbat Aug. 3, 2015 @ 8:12 a.m.

I haven't tried it, either (or the Vons home delivery) for the same reason. I guess one could just purchase non-perishable staple goods and snacks online. Bottled water and canned food come to mind, as I hate hauling heavy stuff home.

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HonestGovernment July 16, 2015 @ 10:57 a.m.

I think that they failed to create good paper mailer ads. Up until the past week or so, their paper ad flyers that arrive in the mail every week, along with those from Albertson's, Von's, Smart & Final, and other, smaller stores, have been too artsy and don't have enough product info. They simply lacked content.

Almost the entire front page of the Haggen ads has been devoted to the slogan, "Hello Haggen, Goodby Hassle," layered on a color photo of a cornfield or some other graphic. Ads during the first months of their opening here advertised only maybe 15 or 20 items, though there were as many ad pages as used by the other grocery advertisers, where maybe >100 items/prices were included. I just kept meaning to go over to the old University Albertson's to see what was in the Haggen store, but never saw any items in the ads that drew me there. They are probably equal/better in some ways to Von's or Albertson's, but it nothing in the ads got me to go to their store.

Hello and Goodby Haggen, I guess.

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dwbat July 16, 2015 @ 11:05 a.m.

HG, I was just thinking the same thing about their mailers. They try to invoke a homespun "Ma and Pa Haggen" image, even though the Haggen family is no longer the owner. It just comes across as phony to me. And the lower priced items they feature appear to be loss leaders. Did their execs ever take Marketing 101?

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Ponzi July 16, 2015 @ 12:13 p.m.

That homespun, "Ma and Pa," golly gee-whiz is actually part of the Northwest mentality. It's really hard to articulate it. I lived in Seattle for 5 years and left first because of the gloomy weather (the rain isn't really a the issue) and the oddness of its people (Google "passive-aggressive" and "Seattle"). In my opinion, there is a big cultural difference along with different buying habits and patterns. What retail formula works for Haggen in the Pacific Northwest is apparently not translating well to the Southwest.

Then Haggen comes into the market and wants to impose, what they perceive, is a nicer more upscale shopping experience. But is that what the community wants or can afford? To emulate a store a notch below a Whole Foods. In San Diego, there are no Whole Foods stores east of I-805. They are in Hillcrest, La Jolla and North County coastal areas like Del Mar and Encinitas. There should have been some pondering of those demographic dynamics before trying to upscale neighborhoods where paying a mortgage on a $500,000 - 1,500 sq ft. box is more pressing than how fancy the grocery store is.

I had many choices of place to shop in the Seattle area and I usually shopped at Safeway because it reminded me of home. Fresh & Easy had a lot more money behind them (Tesco UK) and they got their butt handed to them too.

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dwbat July 16, 2015 @ 12:29 p.m.

Ponzi, I lived in Portand for five years, and that was enough. I was so homesick for CA, as I never "warmed up" to the Pac NW ambiance (or the cold, wet winters). Albertsons dumped the stores they didn't want, and Haggen obviously didn't know the territory. To them, I guess North Park was the same as La Jolla. Duh! The newer Vons in Mission Hills was killer competition for Albertsons across the street, so Cerebus sold that one willingly to Haggen. Bad purchase!

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Ponzi July 16, 2015 @ 12:36 p.m.

Thanks you sharing that. I felt the same! I wonder if there is a "5-year itch" when it comes to becoming homesick? I had a really good job with a Fortune 100 company but just could not take it anymore. Being a native Southern California really makes it difficult appreciating any other place. We also pay the price for this paradise, but to me it's worth it. Life's too short.

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dwbat July 16, 2015 @ 1:06 p.m.

Agree. What's the alternative? Move to cheaper AZ, NV, TX (yikes), OK, MS, AL, SC, etc.? Not for me, thank you.

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Visduh July 17, 2015 @ 7:03 a.m.

Ponzi, Why don't you tell us what you REALLY think of people in Seattle? Yes, there is a strange attitude there that is exacerbated by the endless days of heavy overcast so dark as to require keeping the lights on all day. For a long time the people there have seen themselves as more astute and better educated than anyone east of Boston. So, they always know what works, even when it doesn't translate elsewhere.

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Ponzi July 17, 2015 @ 8:50 a.m.

Don't get me started on Seattle! Did I tell you how horrible and clueless the drivers are? 20 MPH in a 35 MPH zone. Don't know how to merge. Or drive when the sun is out. Maddening.

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Visduh July 17, 2015 @ 9:43 a.m.

I did live there for three years a looong time ago. But I haven't visited there in the past 40 years. No desire to see it again, I guess.

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dwbat July 17, 2015 @ 2:20 p.m.

You didn't mention that the official Washington state ball game is Hacky Sack! And if you're hospitalized in Seattle and can't get out of bed, the nurses will provide Starbucks via an IV!

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dwbat July 17, 2015 @ 1:39 p.m.

And Seattle and Portland don't like Californians much. I do like Amazon, though, and buy from there constantly. But I have no use for Nike, and have never purchased a plane from Boeing!

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dwbat July 19, 2015 @ 9:53 p.m.

I visited Seattle's Museum of Art many years ago, thinking it might be special. But it was the worst big city art museum I've ever been to. I almost wanted to ask for a refund afterward. Portland's is so much better. Even Tulsa has a better art museum: Gilcrease.

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GaryAllmon July 16, 2015 @ 12:26 p.m.

Making the assumption that the stores which had to be divested were sold at bargain basement prices would make the deal Haggen executed look too good to pass up. Apparently management failed to note some basic aspects of capitalism. For instance, the worst performing locations were the ones offered for sale. Would a corporation being forced to sell assets sell off its best performers? Additionally, one of two previously competing locations normally are sold and it is the worse performer that gets the axe. Reference the former Albertson's across the street from a brand new Von's in Mission Hills. Knowing the previous capitalistic facts of life should alert a prospective buyer of the need to thoroughly research a potential market. Haggen management missed the shot on that one. There is no niche market between Whole Foods and Von's in San Diego. Prior to the merger there was intense competition among Von's, Albertson's and Ralph's. Individual items at each varied in price and changed in price for sales intended to undercut each other. In order to compete successfully here store managers have to know the competition's pricing and act accordingly. Layoffs are not the answer and never have been. Layoffs are only proof positive of ignorant and otherwise bad management practices. The three rules of real estate are location, location, location. The three rules of retail food sales are price setting, price setting, price setting.

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dwbat July 16, 2015 @ 12:34 p.m.

Well stated, Mr. Allmon. The big equity firms know how to acquire, slash and burn, but they apparently aren't very astute about actually running the companies they take over.

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Visduh July 17, 2015 @ 6:20 a.m.

In previous "mergers" of this sort, the stores that were sold off were selected as part of an anti-trust, anti-reduction of competition settlement. About 15 years ago, the formerly-publicly-traded Albertson's decided, most unwisely it turned out, to acquire American Stores which did business here as Lucky and Sav-on Drugs. To satisfy the Federal Trade Commission, they had to dispose of a number of locations which were bought by Stater Bros in San Diego County. I was told, and it made sense in light of what happened, that the FTC staff selected the stores to be sold off. In Vista, Albertson's lost both of their own stores, built to their design and both new, and kept three Lucky locations. Of those three, only one was a "keeper", and the other two were stinkers, one just too small to call a supermarket in the era. Stater Bros smoothly took over the SD County locations, and seems to be doing just fine, and had no post-takeover crisis that was ever reported. (The same could not be said for Albertson's which went through a self-dismemberment a few years later.)

So, I wonder about your assertion that Cerebrus decided which stores to peddle to Haggen. My take is that another entity was needed to take excess stores, and a different private equity group bought a tiny chain of supers in Bellingham, WA, and tried to grow it far too rapidly. What was Haggen before all this happened, a 12-store operation? And it was rapidly expanded with over 100 So Cal supers? That's what I recall. And if so, it was a sure candidate for failure. That business is too unforgiving of missteps, too competitive, and too locally-oriented for an outsider to roll into town and hit the ground running. I'm not surprised at these revelations, and actually predicted they would struggle, and that was without knowing anything about Haggen.

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dwbat July 17, 2015 @ 9:35 a.m.

This seems to parallel another Pacific Northwest business expansion that ultimately resulted in disaster. That was the regional Washington Mutual (where I banked once). It began buying up California savings & loans, until it eventually became the largest S&L in the country. After a few years, the bubble popped and "WaMu" was gone (and the remains taken over by JP Morgan Chase).

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Visduh July 17, 2015 @ 9:49 a.m.

The Wall Street pundits probably blame the financial crisis of 2008-9 for the failure of WaMu, but you may be right about over-expansion. WaMu took over Home Savings in the 90's I recall, and why they did that isn't something that I can determine. But all that banking consolidation led to even more failures and, ironically, more consolidation.

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dwbat July 17, 2015 @ 10:26 a.m.

Yes, WaMu got heavily into subprime mortgages and bad loans. Their demise was the biggest bank failure in US history. If Haggen doesn't pull a rabbit out of its hat, it could be one of the biggest grocery chain failures. Fresh & Easy was a much bigger fail, by the UK's Tesco. Ron Burkle's Yucaipa Companies bought many of their stores. Tesco lost way over $1 billion in that venture.

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AlexClarke July 16, 2015 @ 4:18 p.m.

In my 'hood the local store was a small Vons. Haggen came in and "remodeled" is less than 3 days. There signage changes and some altered displays but nothing to set it apart from the Vons feel. The most notable change was the huge price increases. I am no financial wizard but what did they think would happen? A large Vons is 1.2 miles away. The only people who go to this Haggens are those who do not drive or are in too big a hurry to drive 1.2 miles away. But unlike the millionaire know-it-alls at Haggen I am just a local multi-hundredaire.

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dwbat July 16, 2015 @ 6:21 p.m.

It seems to baffle most of the residents here why Haggen failed to do things right. But maybe they'll be able to sell off the real estate for a profit, after closing down stores. Otherwise their future looks grim.

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dwbat July 17, 2015 @ 11 a.m.

This is a photo I shot March 17, when Haggen was changing the signage at Albertsons. Maybe the "cherry pickers" will be back in a few months, to remove the signs?

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Ken Harrison July 17, 2015 @ 1:17 p.m.

I was shocked sorta to walk into the quaint little former Albertson's on Carlsbad Village Dr. (Originally a Mayfair Market, then Big Bear) and see the Haggans change nothing but signage. The fruits and vegetables area was exactly the same, and the store kept the old fashioned rounded, rotating check out isles.

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dwbat July 17, 2015 @ 1:45 p.m.

If Starbucks were to open supermarkets, their stores would probably look like Haggen stores: clean and shiny but also sterile and not particularly inviting.

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Dryw Keltz July 17, 2015 @ 3:06 p.m.

Seeing as this is right around the corner from mi casa, I shop here all the time. The produce is much better than it was when the store was still Albertson's. The apple selection is absolutely fantastic. The Jazz apples at $1.99 per pound are particularly awesome. Plus, you can often find $1.99 mini watermelons here as well. The deli is better now, but it probably has priced some locals out since it is pricier as well. All the aisle products seem to be about the same, if not a tad more expensive than they were before the switch. I always hit Vons instead for big grocery runs since soups, cereal, condiments, pretty much all the items you could have tracked down at Vons or Target are most certainly cheaper at Vons or Target. I love it as a store for buying fresh produce and random, one-off grocery items that I have run out of, but I still do my big grocery runs elsewhere. I hope they survive though. They seem like good peeps and the store is quite pleasant inside.

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dwbat July 17, 2015 @ 4:06 p.m.

I bought some good 69-cent avocados there recently, but that price didn't last long. You can't stock up on very many, because then they go bad. But produce at Sprout's on Park Blvd. is still much cheaper than Haggen.

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Dryw Keltz July 17, 2015 @ 5:23 p.m.

I don't like the apples from Sprout's as much. They don't seem to retain their crispness as well. I love a nice, crisp apple. This post is ironic, since my picture on here actually features me in the midst of eating an apple. Honeycrisp are the best, but they are too pricey. Jazz apples are the perfect compromise of price and taste. That being said, I do agree that most of the opening specials at Haggan (especially their awesome egg deal) are long gone and don't seem to be coming back. I would be remorse not to mention how tasty their broccoli salad at the deli is though. Best one I have had in SD...

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dwbat July 17, 2015 @ 6:38 p.m.

Dryw, I've never eaten a Jazz apple, so I'll have to try some now. And I never had the broccoli salad, either. I do like a great Tabbouleh salad. Where's the best place for that?

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Ponzi July 18, 2015 @ 9:16 p.m.

I had a good tabouli at La Miche Kabobgee in Kearny Mesa. The little chain called The Kabob Shop is worth a try too. San Diego is getting more good Mediterranean eateries all the time.

There's a tasty broccoli salad at Souplantation. It's called Joan's Broccoli Madness Salad. I eat it there and then fill up a take-out order for home. Go online and sign up for their email coupons...

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dwbat July 18, 2015 @ 9:24 p.m.

Thanks. I mostly go to eateries in North Park, Hillcrest or Adams Ave.

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Ponzi July 19, 2015 @ 12:02 a.m.

Ah, it' so gentrified now. Though I like it. I used to live in a canyon home on Montecito in Mission Hills. I loved the walkability and 5-minute taxi to the airport... I would like to move back to Mission Hills or Hillcrest again someday soon. There's just so much cool stuff even for an old fart like me.

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Dryw Keltz July 19, 2015 @ 12:30 a.m.

Oooooo....I will have to try that salad at Souplantation. And thanks for the heads-up on the coupons as well. I am an avid fan of bargain eating. As for a good Tabbouleh, my guess would be Whole Foods, even though the Kabob Shop is great food for a chain. I love their lamb plates. The spicy hummus there is tasty as well, just make sure to taste test before you buy...the spiciness varies so sometimes it can really set your mouth on fire.

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dwbat July 19, 2015 @ 3:51 a.m.

Darn, I keep forgetting about Mama's Bakery & Lebanese Deli on Alabama St. Always fresh and tasty, and not expensive. And there's a nice parklet outside, too. I'm headed there this week, as these comments are making me salivate (like Pavlov's dog).

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dwbat July 19, 2015 @ 3:06 p.m.

OK, Dryw. I bought a couple of Jazz apples for test purposes. Wow, they are indeed crisp! You could drop one off the California Tower in Balboa Park, and it would bounce over to the Organ Pavilion! Way too firm for me. I'll bake the other one in the oven. I'll stick to my fave: good ol' Gala apples.

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bzribee July 24, 2015 @ 11:23 p.m.

Try Mama's Bakery and Deli on Alabama and El Cajon BLvd. Great Manakeesh, too.

Also, there's a wonderful Middle Eastern grocery store (Balboa International Market) with a eat in/take out area. They have some wonderful items, if you can figure out how to order! I"m still working on that!

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HonestGovernment July 20, 2015 @ 4:49 p.m.

Unlike previously, Haggen's mailer for the coming week looks great! It has many items, and a few things at prices that are competitive and will get me into the store.

Someone in management/marketing decided to stop sending out mailers that didn't inform, and it's much better now. Good job, Haggen's.

Unfortunately for Haggen's, today's LA Times had a story about a lawsuit that Albertson's just filed against Haggen's, a dispute over $46 million. It's going to be expensive to fight this.

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dwbat July 20, 2015 @ 6:59 p.m.

Interesting development on the new mailer. I'll check it tomorrow. But the company is still fighting some tough odds to survive.

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dwbat July 24, 2015 @ 4:01 p.m.

Obviously the mailer "reboot" isn't working either. I went to the North Park Haggen deli this morning. The store was practically empty of customers. Checkers were standing around, talking to each other.

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dwbat July 21, 2015 @ 7:20 a.m.

Meanwhile, Albertsons filed a registration statement with the SEC to sell shares of its common stock in an IPO. They expect to raise at least $100 million.

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dwbat July 23, 2015 @ 7:23 p.m.

Jenny Reiswig commented via Facebook: "They didn't take over Albertsons' handling of the MTS cards." But Haggen wouldn't have been allowed to do so, as Albertsons has the Compass Card contract with MTS.

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dwbat July 26, 2015 @ 12:24 p.m.

Today I snapped a quick smartphone pic (a little fuzzy) of a Haggen billboard on University Avenue in North Park, offering Cheetos and carrots. Do they really think that is going to bring in the customers? Unbelievably lame.

None

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Ponzi July 28, 2015 @ 6 p.m.

I hope Frito-Lay paid for the ad, because their brand is more conspicuous than Haggen.

What works for them in the Northwest may not do so here. Look at this weird ad they put at covered bus stops in the Seattle region:

None

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dwbat Aug. 1, 2015 @ 8:42 p.m.

I think their creative director might have been smoking some mellow weed while listening to Yanni when he/she came up with that one!

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dwbat July 31, 2015 @ 8:34 p.m.

I went to buy some yogurt this afternoon at the North Park Haggen. I found some dated July 25! I told an employee, and he did take it off the shelf immediately. It should have been removed and discarded the minute it became out of date. I recently became ill, I believe from some yogurt I previously bought from Haggen. I can't be sure it was the yogurt, but the expiration date was the day I ate it (July 29). I should have tossed it, as it looked a little funny (but it tasted OK). My guess is that since Haggen stores are not busy, the perishables may sit there longer while waiting for customers to buy them. Be careful when you shop for yogurt, milk, cheese, meat, etc. Check those expiration dates. That's true no matter where you shop.

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danfogel Aug. 1, 2015 @ 1:59 p.m.

The date on yogurt is a sell by date unless otherwise specified. I have eaten yogurt weeks past its sell by date and never had a problem. The only bacteria left in the yogurt are just the good bacteria. As long as it doesn't have a bluish-green tinge or a particularly sour smell or taste, it should be fine.

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dwbat Aug. 1, 2015 @ 6:19 p.m.

Other sources do not agree. Check: http://www.ehow.com/list_6130162_dangers-out_of_date-yogurt_.html It says in part: "Eating expired yogurt can result in diarrhea ranging from mild to severe. Diarrhea is a common symptom of all food-borne illnesses. Diarrhea can occur almost immediately after ingesting spoiled yogurt." And www.livestrong.com says: "Diarrhea is a common symptom that occurs after one has consumed expired yogurt; check expiration dates on yogurt packaging and do not consume it past the expiration date...it tends to spoil quickly once the sell-by date has passed." I believe this is proper advice, and I will never eat yogurt again if it's past the date.

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danfogel Aug. 1, 2015 @ 6:43 p.m.

Everyone has their own opinion: http://www.nutrition-health-articles.org/yogurt-expiration-date.php

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-truth-behind-sell-by-dates-on-foods/

http://consumerist.com/2010/09/01/how-long-to-wait-before-trashing-expired-yogurt-eggs/

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-24305902

You conveniently left out part of the live strong article ( my emphasis): "Yogurt that has been stored LONG PAST its sell-by date CAN cause a range of bothersome side effects."

Perhaps this may be of some use: http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/do-food-expiration-dates-matter?page=4

I simply use common sense, If it looks bad or smells bad or tastes bad, regardless of the date, I don't consume it.

That seems to have worked just fine so far.

The only time I can remember ever becoming ill because of something I ate was maybe 15 yrs or so ago. Several of us took our families to Disneyland on Christmas day. (Yes they are open and though they don't announce attendance, many people who have worked their have reported that it is one of the busiest days). Several of us ended up getting food poisoning and it seems that everyone who did, and the only ones who did, all at at the same place.

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dwbat Aug. 1, 2015 @ 8:34 p.m.

Dan, you can't just go by something smelling or tasting bad. I got food poisoning at a restaurant many years ago (in Palm Springs). The food tasted OK, and didn't smell spoiled. But it WAS bad, and I got sick. I called the county health dept., which inspected the place and shut it down right away (for a few days, until corrections were made). The shutdown notice was posted on the front door. The inspector later told me the meat refrigerator was not cold enough. Plus the kitchen had vermin droppings and insect infestation. Yuck. The place was eventually sold, and has new management today. It's a very popular restaurant these days. I've eaten there since, and no problems.
As for yogurt, milk, meat and other refrigerated products, it's not just the sell-by date. Has the product been kept at the proper temp, from mfg. plant, to the warehouse, to the store's cold room in back, to the refrigerated section where it's finally sold? If not, then it could still be unsafe to eat, regardless of the date on it. Food poisoning occurs across the country every single day, so caution is advised.

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danfogel Aug. 1, 2015 @ 9:22 p.m.

dwbat, Yes, I have gotten sick from restaurant food, as I noted above. But we were taking about unopened, packaged food, not prepared restaurant food. I am keenly aware of the proper handling requirements and storage of refrigerated products and I have also returned items that were well within their "date", yet spoiled, on many occasions. Common sense has to be evident at some point. Would you eat 6 month old cottage cheese, even though it is unopened? I wouldn't. I don't eat bread that has even the slightest touch of mold on it because the visible mold you see on the surface of bread also sends root threads down into it. On the flip side, with hard or semi-hard cheeses like cheddar, colby, gorgonzola, gruyere, parm or romano, the mold has trouble penetrating deeply into the cheese. If you can cut an inch or so of cheese off of each side of the mold and toss the moldy slices, it should be safe to eat. I have also fired down a year old twinkie that tasted just fine and suffered no ill affects. Again, common sense.

As I said before I simply use common sense, If it looks bad or smells bad or tastes bad, regardless of the date, I don't consume it.

That seems to have worked just fine so far

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dwbat Aug. 1, 2015 @ 10:49 p.m.

According to Snopes (http://www.snopes.com/food/ingredient/twinkies.asp), "Twinkies have a shelf life of twenty-five days." ;-)

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dwbat Aug. 4, 2015 @ 2:35 p.m.

Well, as for restaurant meals, the food doesn't always look or smell bad. The recent food poisoning in San Diego at Bali Hai sneaked up on diners, and they got ill. It was norovirus doing its dirty deed. And "common sense" didn't help anyone in that case. http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2015/aug/04/bali-hai-norovirus-update/ And with store food, again I'd advise being cautious about eating it if the stamped date has passed--even if it smells like mom's apple pie! Why gamble with your health? As they say, your body is your temple.

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danfogel Aug. 4, 2015 @ 4:03 p.m.

dwbat, But again, we were taking about unopened, packaged food, not prepared restaurant food. It was specifically yogurt. Except for infant formula, product dating is not generally required by Federal regulations. A sell by date or a best buy date are not expiration dates. They don't indicate spoilage. Except for "use-by" dates, product dates don't always pertain to home storage and use after purchase. Use-by dates usually refer to best quality and are not safety dates and that date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product. Even if the date expires during home storage, a product should be safe, wholesome and of good quality if handled properly. Foods can develop an off odor, flavor or appearance due to spoilage bacteria, and in such a case, you should not use it for quality reasons. Again, a little common sense. A sell by date that's largely meant for use by retailers. It tells the store how long to display the product for sale and you should buy the product before the date expires. Again, feel free to follow your own path. I am not gambling with my health, just using common sense.

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dwbat Aug. 5, 2015 @ 6:05 a.m.

Dan, I expanded the subject we were discussing to include restaurant food poisoning. Comments evolve over time; we are not required to stay rigidly on one specific topic. And my comments were not for you personally, as many others read the public comments that are posted. As for product dating, I'm wondering if California and/or County health regulations might require it, regardless of Federal regulations? Our fine state has a history of being ahead of the pack in consumer protection.

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danfogel Aug. 5, 2015 @ 8:50 a.m.

dwbat Please accept my most humblest of apologies. Because of the indention of your comment under my previous comment, rather than a new comment, I presumed it to be an additional response to said previous comment. I do know that San Diego has, or at least had, regulations for products made in cottage food operations, but one could guess that that they would not maintain separate packaging requirements for the other food types in the discussion. Simple logistics. How many companies would absorb the expense of producing special packaging intended only for San Diego county which different than the remainder of California and most of the country. As for state regulations for labeling requirements, unless something has changed recently, the Food and Drug branch of the CDPH defers to federal guidelines meaning that the majority of foods do not require dating.

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dwbat Aug. 5, 2015 @ 10:01 a.m.

Dan, you are correct about the dates we see on food products. Here's what I found from the USDA: "There is no uniform or universally accepted system used for food dating in the United States. Although dating of some foods is required by more than 20 states, there are areas of the country where much of the food supply has some type of open date and other areas where almost no food is dated." Sounds like there should be some sort of uniform regulations, and also an explanation so we fully understand the difference between "sell-by" and "use-by" dates. Interestingly, I read that eggs should NOT be stored in the door, but in the coldest spot in your fridge. So why do many refrigerators have egg sections in the door? It says the same for yogurt, which I usually do store in the door. Maybe that info should be printed on egg/yogurt containers, as I never heard that advice before.

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dwbat Aug. 6, 2015 @ 3:22 a.m.

By the way, I checked the SD County site and there's a way online to report a restaurant where you believe you got food poisoning. But I didn't see a similar process to report bad food you bought from a store, which made you sick.

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danfogel Aug. 1, 2015 @ 11:40 p.m.

"Hostess Brands LLC is preparing for the return of the Twinkie in a week, without unionized workers, company stores or the pile of debt the predecessor company accumulated.

The Twinkie's shelf life will be 45 days when the baked good returns to grocery stores on July 15. That's almost three weeks longer than the 26 days the former Twinkie was supposed to stay fresh."

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/hostess-brands-comeback-include-twinkies-cupcakes-hohos-dingdongs/story?id=19615151

Nevertheless, a couple of years ago,upon returning to a place I have in the mountains outside of Tucson, among the things left from my last visit the year earlier were a few twinkies. And as I said, they tasted just fine and I suffered no ill affects. Have you ever considered the possibility that those making the foods are conservative in their dating, not just to ensure your safety, but also counting on the fact that with so much food wasted in this country, when you throw out those "out dated" items, you'll just spend more money to by more of them. No , of course not. That could never happen. I don't know what to tell you other than you do your thing and I'll do mine.

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dwbat Aug. 2, 2015 @ 2:37 a.m.

Ah, that's the great thing about the US. We have the freedom to do just that. Diversity is wonderful; therein lies our strength.

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dwbat Aug. 3, 2015 @ 3:36 a.m.

Patricia Powers responded via Facebook: "This needs to be another Sprouts." Sprouts on Park Blvd. is busy for sure, but they have lots of checkers and it goes pretty quick in the checkout line. Actually what I'd like to see there is a BigLots! store. I used to shop at BigLots! where Wang's (now gone) eventually took over the space. Or a 99 Cent Only store would be also be successful.

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dwbat Aug. 16, 2015 @ 11:16 a.m.

Back to the main subject. While shopping at the North Park Haggen store Aug. 14 morning, the employees far outnumbered the customers. Why the company is keeping this store open is anyone's guess. With six San Diego County Haggen stores on the "hit list," I expect more to be gone in the coming months. Perhaps the company's bean counters are talking daily to others who might buy the stores (or the land beneath them).

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dwbat Sept. 10, 2015 @ 5:36 p.m.

Sept. 10 UPDATE: As of today, the store's shelves are depleting fast. There are no eggs, and sports drinks, orange juice and bottled teas are running low. The meat department is about half-stocked, and much of the yogurt and milk supplies are gone. The deli counter was totally closed down today. Haggen public relations refuses to answer whether this store will get restocked and remain open. One employee said they are getting liquor delivered but by C.O.D. only. I've talked to several employees, and as you might guess, morale is low. Apparently employees aren't being told what to expect, and nobody is smiling.

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dwbat Sept. 22, 2015 @ 9:33 p.m.

Sept. 22 UPDATE: Shopped there this afternoon, and one check stand was open (and no line). Several employees were standing around with nothing to do. But there were enough eggs, but limited supplies of OJ, soda, cheese and lunch meat. Sports drinks were about sold out. The deli was open, though. Stay tuned.

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dwbat Sept. 23, 2015 @ 11:32 a.m.

There was NO weekly circular mailed out this week! The Haggen website says: "Weekly Circular Items There are currently no ad pages available for this store."

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dwbat Oct. 14, 2015 @ 11:35 a.m.

OCTOBER 14 UPDATE: It doesn't look like there's any restocking being done now. Beer, TP, canned black beans, and mayo are about gone. The frozen fish counter shut down. There's less produce and meat. Coke has been gone a long time (but I never buy it). Cheese choices are limited, and there's no Gatorade or Powerade left. But there's still no storewide markdowns. I'm sure that's coming.

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dwbat Nov. 20, 2015 @ 9:58 a.m.

NOVEMBER 20 UPDATE: It's the end of the line. Not much left to buy at Haggen, even at 50% off. They close down Nov. 24.

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dwbat Dec. 4, 2015 @ 5:44 p.m.

December 4 update: The North Park store remained open until Nov. 30. Now it's boarded up.

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dwbat March 7, 2016 @ 6:27 p.m.

March 7 update: Smart & Final Extra! opens at this location on March 9. That long Haggen nightmare is gone forever. I think S&F will show how it's done right.

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