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Grocery deliveries back online

March 16, 2004

Alicia Robinson

Employees at the Newport Coast Pavilions store were back at work on

Monday, packing orders for delivery to customers who have had to do

their own shopping for the past five months.

The store resumed delivery service, which was a casualty of the

five-month grocery workers' strike set off by a contract dispute with

grocery chains.

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The Pavilions store in Newport Coast is one of 23 Safeway-owned

Southern California stores that resumed deliveries on Monday.

Safeway.com Chief Operating Officer Dave Lauffer was among company

executives who traveled to stores Monday to help with deliveries.

Safeway.com and Vons.com operate the online ordering and delivery

services for Pavilions and Vons stores.

"We just want to get out there with the customers that have been

offline for five months now," Lauffer said.

To woo back customers, the company is offering free delivery for

orders of $100 or more through April 11. Some customers received

flowers and chocolates on Monday to let them know they were

appreciated, Lauffer said.

Vons.com Assistant Manager Olga Carrillo and clerk Sarah Lester

said they were glad to be back. About three-quarters of their

co-workers came back to their jobs, but they're still getting used to

being together inside the store after picketing out front for so

long, they said.

"Everyone has to make adjustments," Lester said.

Preparing the delivery orders required a few technical adjustments

also, like finding all the items customers wanted, Vons.com employee

Jared Fast said.

"It was confusing a little bit because a lot of the stuff was out

of stock," he said.

While grocery delivery workers don't seem to have any hard

feelings toward their employers, customers might be bitter because of

the strike, Fast said.

"Honestly, I think the customers are going to shop online more

than they did before because they don't want to come back to the

stores," he said.

Vons.com department manager Laura Kinsey said that about half of

Monday's orders were from new customers, a good sign that the

delivery workers will be busy.

"I was worried I would have lost customers, and I didn't," she

said.

Workers expected to make about 25 deliveries on Monday, which

showed customers were eager to have delivery service again, Lauffer

said.

"We're almost 100% capacity today, which means they came rushing

back," he said.

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