Ednar Ott, a short, spry 74-year-old woman, usually walks from her house to her neighborhood Safeway store at 5227 Georgia Ave. NW to buy the groceries. "I shop here all the time," she said, pulling her cart of three grocery bags. "We old people don't have any transportation."

Sometime this summer, Ott may have a bit further to walk, because Safeway officials are considering closing the store by then.

Ott was one of hundreds of shoppers to sign petitions circulated yesterday in an effort to stop the planned closing.

Ernie Moore, a Safeway spokesman, said the store was being closed because it is losing money. The Georgia Avenue store is one of the smaller ones that Safeway operates. It does not have enough floor space to handle the volume of sales necessary to make it profitable, he said.

Moore said Safeway officials are working with community leaders to try to find an alternative to closing the store, or perhaps an independent grocer to run it.

Last month, two Koreans signed a lease to operate a former Safeway store in Anacostia after Safeway officials worked with the community to find an alternative to its closing.

Currently, Safeway has 32 stores in the city.

Joan Thomas, a member of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission that sponsored yesterday's petition drive, said she hopes that the petitions will convince Safeway to stay.

If the store closes, the next closest grocery store will be two miles away, Thomas said.

"If it closes, I'll have to pay 20 cents to catch the bus to the nearest one (Safeway)," Ott said, "and I'll have to catch a cab and pay $2.85 to bring the groceries back home. I can't afford it."