Change is afoot for the Kenai Carrs.
New rustic-looking display cases are angled diagonally where old rectangle fruit and vegetable cases used to be. Bread shelves have been moved from the middle of the store to the far end, next to the bakery. Cereal and candy are rearranged. Greeting cards and magazine shelves have been uprooted, while other aisles sit empty, or nearly shelfless.
"I'm lost," said Kenai resident Sue Ford as she wandered the store Monday with her daughter Becca. "It took me 10 years to figure this store out."
Since May 6, Carrs has been undergoing the first phase of its two-part makeover, with the aim of abandoning its current moniker to fly the "Safeway" banner. The first phase reshelving is scheduled to be completed Thursday, and the second, more intensive construction phase, will run through August, said Carrs store manager Doug Jung.
"Safeway has been remodeling a lot of its in-state Carrs stores," he said.
Jung said reshelving work is a week ahead of schedule and the construction phase began last night, running from 8 p.m. until 6:30 a.m. for the duration of the project, "so it won't interrupt the flow of business."
He said the name change, and all the accompanying cosmetic updates won't affect the store's service.
"It doesn't matter what it says on the outside, nothing's going to change about the way the store operates," he said.
The store will become a Safeway by the second week of June, to streamline advertising efforts for the two central Kenai Peninsula stores owned by the Pleasanton, Calif.-based grocery chain.
"We want to run one ad in the (paper)," Jung said. "You can get the same thing at both stores."
Safeway merged with Carr Gottstein Foods Co., the Carrs founding company, in April 1999 after a $330 million deal that called for Safeway to sell seven of its stores. The sell measure was required by a state judge to arrest concerns that the grocery chain's purchase would concentrate too much of Alaska's grocery business in one company's hand.
Changes the store will see include more shelving, new lighting and wall decor, new floors in produce and natural foods, and new refrigerator cases in dairy foods. The outside of the store will change to reflect the new name and the store will get a refurbished bakery and deli department, a new seafood department and a new, faster photo processor for the photo department, among other things.
As 25-year Kenai resident Alfred Walters pushed his cart down the new pet aisle searching for cat food, he said he was comfortable with the change.
"I'm sure it's for the better," he said. "Looks like their getting more products and a bigger variety. My only concern is if they raise prices."
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