The recent merger between Safeway and Albertsons is yet one more consolidation of a grocery market with ever fewer players. Observers watching the merger note that the deal represents the classical tension between big and local.
Giant Safeway offers more purchasing power and distribution channels. More community-oriented Albertsons, while no mom-and-pop store, gives regional managers much more voice in product selections attuned to what local customers want.
The marriage may not be without its stormy periods. It is a chronic problem with gigantism. The human element, so essential to commercial relationships, is sacrificed, and in its place are put cold mechanical links that adjust awkwardly to more specific human needs.