Corporate 100
Carrs|Safeway employees at its new location in midtown Anchorage.


100 Years in the Last Frontier
Carrs|Safeway is locally grown and nationally strong

he state’s newest Carrs|Safeway opened in mid-November 2019; while it remains located in the (newly rebranded) Midtown Mall in Anchorage, it moved from the west side of the mall to the east. The renovated space is bright, open, and features a full-service ramen bar, full-service poke bar, and Wok-UR-Way, in addition to a Kaladi Brothers location.

Carrs|Safeway Alaska General Manager Reino Bellio says that, against a nationwide trend of struggling retail brands, the company has long-term plans for operations in Alaska. “We have been here for a long time,” Bellio says.

In fact, back in 1915, a year before Anchorage’s founding and more than forty years before Alaska became a state, J.B. Gottstein was supplying groceries and other supplies to Alaskans. Larry Carr opened his first grocery location in 1950. By the mid ‘70s the two grocers merged to form, at the time, the state’s largest retail chain and further cemented their legacy. According to Carrs|Safeway, following that merger, “60 percent of the entire Alaskan population lived within three miles of a Carrs store.” In 1990 the company was purchased by an employee ownership group, and then it was acquired by Safeway in 1999, which was followed by its acquisition in 2014 that made Carrs|Safeway part of the Albertsons family of stores.

In the Community
With more than 100 years operating in the Last Frontier, twenty-eight stores and two warehouses in Alaska, and more than 2,600 Alaskan employees, Carrs|Safeway knows what it takes to provide the goods and services that Alaskans need. And over the years Carrs|Safeway has become part of many Alaskan communities; Bellio says the company has a presence across the state, with more locations outside of Anchorage than within it.

And its positive influence spreads even beyond that. Carrs|Safeway provides Teacher Grants to schools across the state. Over the past three years, the company has donated $600,000, including $200,000 last year in the form of forty $5,000 grants.

Teachers apply for the grants, which can be used for equipment, software, and supplies; books; expenses associated with field trips for students; professional development courses, seminars, and workshops; or travel expenses related to professional development or bringing in outside experts. Bellio points out any teacher in Alaska can apply for one of the grants, not just those in communities with a Carrs|Safeway location, allowing the company to support education throughout Alaska. He’s excited for the growth that the program has seen. “In that first year we had probably less than 25 applicants, but now we get 300 to 400,” he says.

Another program with far-reaching effects is the Hunger Bag campaign; while they’re checking out, shoppers can choose to scan a bag that represents a meal to be donated to food banks statewide for distribution to needy families. “This year we donated more than 350,000 pounds across the state,” Bellio says, clarifying that number only accounts for donations from November and December of 2019.

Carrs|Safeway has many other community outreach programs and opportunities, but it also has an internal program called We Care that assists employees in times of need. “We’re proud that we were able to help dozens of employees post-[the November 2018] earthquake who had damages and expenses as a result of that natural disaster,” he says, adding that there were funds available to employees within a week of the earthquake to help them manage repairs and get back on their feet.

Careers at Carrs|Safeway
Bellio says Carrs|Safeway makes it a priority to invest in its employees, and he’s an example of that. He worked for the company while he was in college, primarily because it allowed him to have a flexible work schedule. “I actually gave up a higher-paying job in college because I needed the flexibility that working here provided,” he explains. While he was in college, mentors identified him as someone with potential and approached Bellio about starting a career, “but I still thought I’d graduate and move on,” he says. However, educational benefits he received through his graduate and undergraduate educations, schedule flexibility, and variety in his workday inspired Bellio to look at his job at Carrs|Safeway as not just a job, but a career.

Now he’s in a position to continue that culture of growth from the bottom up. “We look to promote from within and have extensive training programs,” Bellio says. “Many of our company leaders started in entry level positions.”

He explains that Carrs|Safeway provides many education, certification, and training opportunities to its employees. One opportunity available to every employee who has been with Carrs|Safeway for at least six months is the Retail Management Certificate Program; employees can apply for pre-paid tuition assistance, and upon approval 100 percent of their tuition and 80 percent of their book and fee costs are paid by the company.

Carrs|Safeway also uses other methods to help employees reach their potential, including tuition reimbursement and a leadership training program. “We develop and train from within by mentoring and coaching at all levels,” Bellio says.

The midtown Carrs features aisles named after Anchorage roads.


The retailer also finds other ways to reward and support its employees. “My favorite is to personally recognize individuals and teams for all of their efforts,” Bellio says. “A lot of hard work goes into operating a successful supermarket, and our store directors and their teams strive to exceed expectations daily at all our locations.”

He also tracks start-date anniversaries and does his best to congratulate employees on those milestones in person whenever possible. “Additionally, we do have incentives such as service awards, years of service, bonuses, and recognition letters and plaques,” Bellio says.

The Corner Store
Carrs|Safeway seeks out employees who are honest, friendly, reliable, and team-oriented. “We strive to create a diverse employee group that mirrors the communities we serve,” Bellio says. While Carrs|Safeway is now part of a national retail group that operates stores in thirty-four states and the District of Columbia, it remains the neighborhood store for many Alaskans.
The east-facing façade of the new midtown Anchorage Carrs.


“We want to be locally great and nationally strong as a company,” he says. To that end, “We are a big supporter of Alaskan Grown and buying local. We have made changes in recent years to have more representation of Alaska products and are regularly working with farmers and producers in the state.” Carrs|Safeway has been the recipient of the Golden Carrot, an award that recognizes the efforts of local food retailers to display and promote produce grown in-state.

And in addition to fruits and vegetables, Carrs|Safeway’s other local offerings include organic baby food from Bambino’s Baby Food and flours, cereals, and breakfast and baking mixes made with Alaska grain from Alaska Flour Company.

The company has listened to local shoppers and increased the quantity and variety of organic foods it offers to shoppers. Bellio says that many Carrs|Safeway locations now carry more than 150 organic items.

“We should have local flavor and flare at all of our stores,” Bellio says, a vision that’s expressed clearly at the new midtown location. In addition to numbers, the aisles have names drawn from Anchorage roads, like Arctic Boulevard and Seward Highway. “Carrs|Safeway is proud to be a part of many communities across Alaska, and we want to say, ‘Thank you for your business,’ to all our customers.”