“If these people think Haggen was high priced, wait until they see Gelson’s,” said Barbara from La Costa.
  • “If these people think Haggen was high priced, wait until they see Gelson’s,” said Barbara from La Costa.
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With large “Store Closing” banners draped across the front of the La Costa Haggen Food and Drug, advertising 10 to 30 percent off, the much storied four-month expansion to bankruptcy of the Washington based-chain may soon be over.

Haggen will hold an auction on November 9 for prospective bidders for their 25 San Diego County locations. But two chains have already stepped up, hoping to carve up 13 of the stores, pending the bankruptcy court’s approval.

Gelson’s Market, a 17-store high-end chain serving wealthier areas of L.A. and Orange County, will be bidding for three Haggen stores, including the one at 7660 El Camino Real. The three locations are all in high-income areas of Carlsbad, Del Mar, and La Jolla.

Smart & Final will be bidding on ten San Diego County Haggen locations, including the small, neighborhood Carlsbad Village store, the only grocery store west of I-5, from Palomar Airport Road north to Oceanside’s Mission Ave. Smart & Final is also bidding on 18 other Haggen locations in California and Nevada.

On October 19, one La Costa Haggen customer said, “If these people think Haggen was high priced, wait until they see Gelson’s.” Barbara from La Costa said they had been on vacation and just returned, surprised to see the store closing. “They [Haggen] had the best meats and steaks,” she said.

As he walked around the store’s empty seafood display, floral department, and fruits and vegetable section, Dennis from Encinitas said even with 10 percent off, he could still find things cheaper at Vons.

Ryan, who works at a hotel nearby, said, “It sucks.” He visits Haggen to get a quick sandwich for lunch. “I can’t afford a ten-dollar sandwich,” he said, referring to Gelson’s purported high prices.

One of the cashier clerks said he would stay with the next store, whoever occupies the place. “It’s an individual decision if we stay or try to go somewhere else.” I asked if the retail clerk’s union is helping Haggen employees The clerk laughed. “You’ve never worked for a union before. All they do is take our money. The union hasn’t helped us out one bit in this whole thing,” he said.

Interestingly, the Haggen drug store will stay open after the La Costa store closes, probably due to stringent licensing by the state pharmaceutical board.

As of yet, there’s been no reported interest from Stater Brothers, the Inland Empire-based, 166-store chain, which industry experts expected to make an expansion move on Haggen’s loss.

On November 24, the bankruptcy court is expected to approve the results of the auction, and Haggen Food and Drugs will officially be out of business in California.

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Visduh Oct. 20, 2015 @ 3:56 p.m.

Some earlier reports had those units already going to Gelson's and S&F. At a time like this, I'd guess that if those locations are wanted, Gelson's and S&F will get them. It also appears that S&F wants other units in other areas of So Cal. As to the plans of Stater Bros, since I don't know exactly where they have stores and where they don't, we might assume they'll consider picking up some in areas they do not now serve, but not far from their current areas of coverage. That is, if they're not yet in Orange County, this might provide the opportunity to enter that market.

It's amusing to see and hear some analysts calling Smart & Final "sort of like Costco" with warehouse offerings. That's what they used to be. Now that most or all of them have been converted to the Smart & Final Extra concept, they're a supermarket. The big packages are just about gone. It's just another supermarket now. Actually, the changeover looks like a good one, because those I used to go to are now doing at least twice the business they once did. But if you're looking for bulk buys, that's not the store to go to.


dwbat Oct. 20, 2015 @ 5:48 p.m.

Meanwhile, the North Park Haggen remains open but with very few customers. The remaining employees stand around much of the time. I noticed the Lottery machine was removed, but a BofA ATM remains working for now. Two of the four self-service checkouts are closed down.


AlexClarke Oct. 20, 2015 @ 5:55 p.m.

Ken Harrison: Please contact the union to get their side of the Haggen story. It is unfair to let one persons opinion stand without knowing what the union has or has not done. First an foremost this store employees said “You’ve never worked for a union before" shows that he has no idea what he is talking about. Members do not work for the union they work for, in this case, Haggen. The union only negotiates wages, hours and working conditions. The union can not keep a company from making poor business decisions or going bankrupt. Please if you are going to publish an opinion of an employee you should find out what the rest of the story is.


Visduh Oct. 20, 2015 @ 7:37 p.m.

That employee, as quoted, might have been confused, or just not adequately articulate. He/she might have said something more like "in" or "under" a union before. Locally the UFCW union, "under" Mickey Kasparian, the union boss, hasn't really done so well for many years. In fact, I'd say that his membership has drawn the losing card over and over. But, if the union were so strong, wouldn't it have some clout? Why, yes, it would. We have heard or seen nothing at all about efforts the union might have made to at least make things easier on its members. And I don't expect anything now.

I'm not anti-union at all; I'd just like to see one show some spine and some clout, and I don't in this mess.


AlexClarke Oct. 21, 2015 @ 5:59 a.m.

Agreed Visduh but Ken Harrison should do a follow up. Mickey like all elected politicians, are voted on by their constituents. Any union is only as strong as their members. I would like to know what, if anything, the union has done and or has to say about this.


ImJustABill Oct. 21, 2015 @ 7:16 a.m.

The story was obviously an attempt to get the reaction of local people involved. It doesn't include official union statements or official Albertsons statements or official Haggens statements either.

If those organizations have official statements I'm sure you could find them by a google search or on their websites.

Or you can get back to ridiculous hair-splitting nitpicks such as pointing out that employees of Haggens don't actually work for the union. There's probably a few grammatical mistakes in my post - knock yourself out.


dwbat Oct. 21, 2015 @ 8:16 a.m.

I tried earlier this year to get a statement from Kasparian for the Reader but there was NO response. As for Haggen, its PR firm doesn't like to answer specific questions from the media. They do issue statements occasionally, but forget about expecting transparency from that company. Their public relations is as bad as how they managed their huge expansion into "unfriendly territory." Albertsons has issued many statements that have been widely reported, Bill. Google them for your reading pleasure.


ImJustABill Oct. 20, 2015 @ 6:15 p.m.

I was discussing the Haggen's closures on another thread (Bauder column). I'm amazed at how Haggen's thought they would succeed. They were slightly nicer inside and perhaps slightly better selection of organics than Albertsons - but their prices were significantly higher than Albertsons and nearby Vons & Ralphs.


Ponzi Oct. 21, 2015 @ 4:37 p.m.

Now all Fresh & Easy stores are going to close. 100 stores.


Visduh Oct. 21, 2015 @ 9:43 p.m.

At least we have Smart & Final waiting in the wings, and a number of others can expand. WinCo is opening in San Marcos today, and I'd think they are here to stay. As these majors vacate locations, others can pick them up. Some will be independent operations, and others can be part of chains. Now, as to Fresh & Easy, their stores are too small for the serious supers to take. But I think that with all these discount operations such as Grocery Outlet and the 99-cent Only, and a bunch of others like them, the market will be served. The next few months will be "verrry interersting" if you lost your favorite local supermarket and need to find a replacement.


BizWiz Oct. 21, 2015 @ 6:15 p.m.

I shopped the local Haggens this afternoon. Yes, they are offering discounts on the instock merchandise. Yes, they also RAISED THEIR PRICES SUBSTANTIALLY on, at a minimum, some items! Caveat emptor. I confirmed this in confidential conversations with some of the Haggen employees I know. Looks like the old "Going out FOR business" game! Hopefully, future liquidation discounts will be more substantial.


dwbat Oct. 21, 2015 @ 8 p.m.

Why would we trust anything Haggen says or does now? They have shown their true colors, and they aren't pretty.


AlexClarke Oct. 22, 2015 @ 5:57 a.m.

Haggen starts out with 10 to 20 percent off and then progresses to 70 percent off in the final days.


dwbat Oct. 22, 2015 @ 8:29 a.m.

Maybe some parents in Washington state could name a child "Haggen", and then buy one of their store signs cheap, to put in the nursery room. ;-)


dwbat Oct. 30, 2015 @ 4:56 p.m.

Yes, Haggen North Park started its closing sale today. Most items were only 10% off the original prices, so there were no real savings. But what do you expect from those bumbling clowns?



dwbat Oct. 23, 2015 @ 10:14 p.m.

At the North Park store today, Haggen-branded items were 25% off. I bought a few. The deli counter has shut down permanently, so I'll miss that. Probably more price cuts will kick in early November.


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