The now-deceased Chicago-area Dominick’s supermarket banner was always a family favorite of ours. Even though Safeway mistakenly stripped the chain, founded in 1918 by Dominick DiMatteo, of its Chicago-roots, Italian-American charm (and some would say quality…), it still resonated with us through the years, even if the aisles did always seem rather easy to navigate (Dominick’s consistently lost money for Safeway after the acquisition in 1998…).
We particularly loved the Safeway store brand, O Organics. Our kids would revolt if we purchased another brand of organic apple juice—nowhere near the same flavor, they cried—and the O Organics milk was likewise a staple. Other products under the brand would inevitably make their way into our cart.
So when word that Safeway was pulling the plug on Dominick’s surfaced back in December 2013, our household was filled with great lamentations, sorrow and woe. It was our go-to store. We’d grown to know the store staff. It was a bit like losing a member of the family.
Dominick’s was the only Safeway banner in our area, so we assumed that was the end of O Organics for us. And we started going to Jewel-Osco—acquired by Albertsons in 1999—with regularity. (Full disclosure: In truth, I’m a retail omnivore and shop many different stores all the time. But, like many people, we always have one go-to store within a mile of home that serves as our go-to destination for regular pantry staples).
But the absence in our lives didn’t last for long, as the flurry of supermarket industry acquisitions over the past few years yielded an interesting result.
Through acquisitions from Supervalu and then Safeway, private equity giant Cerberus Capital Management acquired all Albertsons stores, which included the Jewel-Osco stores. With Safeway now playing in the same sandbox as Albertsons, O Organics again made its way to our local Jewel-Osco stores.
And there was much celebration.
O Organics continues to venture into new product categories—including snack and bakery. A nice assortment of tortilla chips recently arrived in our local Jewel-Osco, including Blue Corn with Flax Seed, Blue Corn with Sesame Seed, Yellow Corn and White Corn, all with ultra-simple ingredient statements. All O Organics products sport a fresh, new (at least to us in Chicago…) packaging design. We’ve also started to see ready-to-eat popcorn hit the local shelves—so far, just Sea Salt in the new bag design, likely testing the waters, although they have done a White Cheddar in the past. And I’m sure more products across the board will follow—all priced at a strong value compared to national brands.