Albertsons used to be my favorite grocery chain.
For the longest time they were the lone holdout against those stupid vanity cards.
They had great selection.
They would special order almost anything for you.
The stores were clean and bright -- even if they were very old.
I disliked Safeway because they represented the Californication of Arizona.
I have little use for Bashas because I never trusted Eddie, I'm not a "friend" of the chain, and I've often perceived that their stores were poorly lit and grungy.
Frys never did much for me, I often felt that they were more interested in selling novelties than groceries.
Then came the great merger between Albertsons and Osco. Following the merger the experienced Albertsons managers left, and the drug store people took over running the chain, and it has gone downhill ever since. Now, if you walk into an Albertsons, you are likely to find a stack of color television sets in the middle of the produce aisle. If you enjoy a product that is not #1 or #2 in its segment, it will likely have been discontinued. Special orders are gone. T-shirts are now available, as are gas grills and patio furniture. Aisles are closer together.
Three years ago, we bought more than 95% of all our groceries at Albertsons. Now, the number is considerably less. We are as likely to visit Safeway as we are Albertsons because the selection (of food items) is much better, and the bakery is superior. While I still won't set foot in their door, my spouse occasionally goes into Bashas to pick up an item or two.
We've even shopped at Frys for our Thanksgiving turkey because they carry the Norbest brand, which we really like.
I'm sad to lose what we used to call "Big Al's" as our favorite (nearly exclusive) grocery store -- but we simply don't need t-shirts, color televisions or over-priced bar-be-que grills.
Don't even get me started on why the same loaf of bread is more expensive if I buy it at the Albertson's gas station than if I cross the parking lot and buy it in the main store.
Do they really think we are that stupid?