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One of the oldest businesses in Ellensburg is not something that has been passed down and is family owned, but it’s the Safeway supermarket on Ruby Street.

On Friday, this store celebrated its 95th anniversary in Ellensburg. Over the course of its history, the store has moved multiple times.

To celebrate, the store held a small party to thank its customers and the staff, including those who had retired. Many of the former staff who attended had worked at Safeway for decades.

Retiree David Minear, started in 1977 and worked for 30 years, was talking with Mike Waters, who started in 1975 and stayed for around 29 years. What they remembered about their time working at Safeway was how much the store changed over the years.

“Made a lot of friends and acquaintances over the years. A big turnover of people, being in a college town,” Waters said. “You would have your core employees who would stay here, and your peripheral people who were basically people who came from the college.”

Two of these “core employees” were retirees Neil Jensen, started in 1979, and Lorene Ball, 1980, they both retired in 2016.

“There has been a lot of change over the years, technology wise,” Jensen said. “We both started before scanners … so everything was hand priced, I had to mark everything and then change the prices, whenever they had to change, by hand.”

According to Ball, the store had only one computer in 1981, and it was the size of a small room. The job of this machine was to communicate to the offices in Seattle to see if there was any price changes on items.

“It was pretty primitive to this today's standards,” Jensen said.

Current Safeway manager, DeVar Gleed was happy to host a celebration to recognize the people in the town. He pointed out that Safeway has been a part of the community for nearly a century and it’s nice to give back, even if its something small like a plate of cupcakes.

“To throw the celebration is an expression of appreciation to our customers and our employees,” Gleed said. “We have some employees who have been here for a long, long time.”

For Jensen and Ball, the celebration was a chance to see many of their old friends again. These are coworkers they have known for decades, and they relish the opportunity to spend time with them again.

“We rarely run into each other, it’s really nice to see everybody again,” Jensen said.

However, the group has done its best to stay connected. Jensen said the company used to host get-togethers for the employees, although that was ended due to expenses. However, he said the employees decided to keep it around, and have gone on camping trips together as a group.

“Before COVID we would try to do one once a year,” Jensen said. “Last year we got together to go camping it was really a fun time, and with things getting back to normal around here maybe we will bring those back.”

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