Less than a month after announcing it would replace locally roasted coffee with Starbucks at its Alaska stores, the Safeway supermarket chain is backing down.
A barrage of protest from angry residents and a strongly worded letter from Governor Tony Knowles forced the retailer to reconsider its decision to eliminate two Anchorage roasters in favor of Starbucks at its in-store coffee bars. “This action is a slap in the face of many Alaskans,” the governor wrote in a letter to the company’s CEO.
Safeway is the third largest supermarket chain nationally and the dominant grocer in Alaska. Safeway’s purchase of the Alaska chain Carrs in 1999 was the subject of a class action lawsuit brought by consumers who argued the takeover would give Safeway a statewide monopoly. The suit was settled after the state attorney general negotiated a consent decree requiring Safeway to sell seven of its stores and to maintain Carrs’ commitment to purchasing Alaska-made products.
Although no final decision has been announced, Anchorage roasters Cafe del Mundo and Kaladi Bros. are optimistic after recent meetings with Safeway officials.