Since arriving in April, the new Safeway store manager in Grand Coulee has been working to correct weaknesses in the store and repair some community relations, he told chamber of commerce members Thursday.
Ryan Dykes stood in his Army National Guard camouflage to talk to the gathering at SunBanks Lake Resort’s Cantina, having driven back from a Yakima base to give the talk.
Dykes said that on his first day, he walked over to the Grand Coulee Dam Area Chamber of Commerce office to ask about joining the organization as the third largest employer in Grand Coulee. The store joined this month.
“Apparently, no Safeway manager has done that yet,” he noted.
He said he’s working on a list of concerns customers provided him, including long checkout lines and too many items out of stock. The latter has been cut from 500 to 250 items on average at the store, which takes in about $250,000 in sales a week.
Dykes, a quartermaster, had planned on a career in the Army, in which he enlisted in 2004, but Safeway recruited him in a special program to hire 1,000 military officers. Some 286 have joined the company so far, which provides a 41-week training program.
Dykes said the promise of a store near his hometown of Omak sealed the deal for him, and he and his wife just bought a home there.
Asked about the possibility of the store adding a gas station, Dykes said he’s been told that can’t happen until the store brings in $300,000 a week.
Speaking in the outdoor restaurant with temperature in the mid-90s, Dykes noted the store leads the 300-plus outlets in Safeway’s Northwest Division in at least one category of sales — ice — a fact he attributed to good service from supplier Coulee Ice.