Why West Seattle Thriftway doesn’t want AMR ambulances parking in its lot

Late last night, several people messaged us with links to a Facebook post in which a person identifying himself as an employee of private-ambulance company AMR said his employer had been banned from parking ambulances at West Seattle Thriftway (WSB sponsor) while crews awaited their next call.

As we often mention in breaking-news coverage, AMR is called in when people are not injured seriously enough to need transport by city-owned-and-operated medic units (those units are based at fire stations – West Seattle has one medic unit, Medic 32, based at Fire Station 32 in The Triangle). AMR doesn’t have a headquarters facility in our area, so you will often see a between-calls ambulance crew parked somewhere – we’ve seen them on the street and in supermarket and restaurant parking lots.

We told the people who messaged us last night that we’d look into this today. (Online comments suggested it had been circulated to TV stations hours earlier, and this story ensued late last night.) Today, Thriftway – a locally owned independent store – published this message on its own Facebook page:

AMR is a privately owned for profit company held by Clayton, Dubilier and Rice, a private investment firm worth approximately $17 Billion. In an effort to lower costs and increase profits AMR’s management has instructed their employees to operate their business out of West Seattle Thriftway’s facility.

This action consisted of parking for several hours at a time and taking up several parking stalls due to the size of the vehicles limiting spaces for our customers at peak business hours. Over the last two years several requests have been made by West Seattle Thriftway to not use prime parking during peak business hours and has been met with little compliance from AMR staff.

Contrary to what has been posted, West Seattle Thriftway HAS NOT banned anyone from shopping with us and we fully support all of the fine EMT’s, Nurses, and Emergency Professionals.

What we cannot support is an outside company’s desire to increase their bottom line profit by impacting our ability to operate our facility efficiently and provide our customers with parking during peak hours.

We are open to discussing use with AMR during non-peak hours if compliance could be assured.”

If you have any questions, we welcome your email: http://westseattlethriftway.com/contactus.html

We also spoke by phone with Thriftway’s owner Paul Kapioski, who reiterated to WSB that he has been trying to work with AMR on this for two years “and getting very little response for them. … We simply wanted to ask them to not impact customers during our prime times … I hate to tell anybody they can’t park here, but it’s a private business, running their business out of our lot.” Meantime, we have a message out to the media-relations department at AMR (whose website says the company’s in the process of being sold) asking if they have encountered similar situations elsewhere

ADDED: Here’s the response we received from AMR spokesperson Jason Sorrick:

In the 10 years I have been with the company, I cannot recall ever dealing with such a request. We post vehicles and move locations similar to police officers, and select locations based on easy access to freeways and main roads. We also tend to choose areas that are well lit at night and visible to the public to help keep our emergency crews safe while they are waiting for their next call.

Businesses are generally welcoming to our crews, and appreciate the patronage of our employees. Places like Starbucks understand our role in the community and are very accommodating to emergency personnel. If a business owner has an issue, they can simply contact us and we will be more than willing to change our posting.

36 Replies to "Why West Seattle Thriftway doesn't want AMR ambulances parking in its lot"

  • Arbor Heights Mom September 14, 2017 (3:31 pm)

    This is a private equity cost saving measure. And all the ambulances in Seattle, and likely in the US, are now owned by private equity. They are trying to get a better return on their business. It’s not up to Thriftway to bankroll their parking. 

  • Just Wondering September 14, 2017 (4:19 pm)

    Seems like West Seattle would have some streets to park at  like on Alki where the news people report from when there’s a bad storm and the waves almost wash over them!  

    • Kelly September 15, 2017 (12:53 pm)

      Harbor ave has enough parking for more running vehicles. Turn off vehicles when parked. The rest of us deserve to breathe.

  • BarGreMagGun September 14, 2017 (4:23 pm)

    Based on the above statement from Thriftway, I agree with them.  I think they are being kind.  AMR can rent/buy a building for their employees to wait for their next call. 

  • Swede. September 14, 2017 (4:34 pm)

    Thriftway is right in what they are doing. Why should they loose money so AMR can save some? If AMR paid for a spot that would be a different deal. 

  • steve September 14, 2017 (4:36 pm)

    I hate AMR. They always have their sirens blaring even when it’s 3am and nobody is on the road. SFD  and SPD usually silence the sirens in a polite way. 

  • miws September 14, 2017 (4:39 pm)

    Here is what I posted on Thriftway’s FB page. For context’s sake, the person’s name I mention is in reference to another commenter on that thread: 

    As a longtime customer of West Seattle Thriftway, I stand with them on this. 

    Although I realize the need for AMR to stage their ambulance(s) somewhere and support their employees need to have a safe and convenient to amenities place to park between calls, it is *fully* corporate AMR’s responsibility to arrange with another business for or to directly provide proper facilities. Thriftway, nor any other business is *obligated* to provide such facilities. 

    And yes, as Heidi mentions, Thriftway would very likely have liability issues should anything happen, such as an AMR vehicle striking a customer walking through the lot, or hitting a customer vehicle. Liability is one of the reasons other businesses, such as stand alone banks, don’t let patrons of neighborhood businesses such as restaurants and theaters park in their otherwise empty lot during the banks closed hours


  • dawsonct September 14, 2017 (4:45 pm)

    The folks at Thriftway make excellent points.

    AMR need to cut into their massive profits and either create their own facilities, or rent space for parking in remote locations. Business owners should not be responsible for augmenting and protecting the profits of other businesses, without proper compensation.

  • sam-c September 14, 2017 (4:50 pm)

    I used to see one AMR ambulance parked on the street over near Walt Hundley play field, every morning, before rush hour.  Seemed like a reasonable spot to hang out    

  • zephyr September 14, 2017 (5:12 pm)

    Thriftway is a wonderful community asset.  Great people work there and they have often hosted local events and supported good causes.  Their social media post makes perfect sense.  Sounds like they have been bending over backwards to resolve this in a positive way.  

  • Jon Wright September 14, 2017 (5:30 pm)

    This is a perfect example of what is wrong with the world these days. Some front-line employee at a big company thinks he has all the facts and posts some utter bull on social media (“the owner of the store…banned EMTs and nurses from spending money at her [sic] store”), a bunch of people start calling for a boycott, and the lazy idiots at the local TV stations lap it all up without bothering to dig into the story. Then the poor schmucks at Thriftway are left holding the bag trying to clean up the public relations disaster. The original poster deserves to bear the brunt of the grief he caused but in reality, he will just disappear back into the woodwork without any repercussions for his inflammatory post.

  • Mark September 14, 2017 (6:27 pm)

    Rite Aid about a half a mile to the north has excess parking. AMR should contact Rite Aid and work out a lease arrangement.  The Thriftway parking can get tight during peak times and is not a good spot.  Whereas RA has lots of parking!

    • Debbie September 15, 2017 (5:51 am)


  • aRF September 14, 2017 (7:01 pm)

    Home Depot would also be a good place for AMR to seek a mutually beneficial arrangement. My injuries are usually home improvement related.

    • KD September 14, 2017 (10:25 pm)

      ^^^  😆🤣😄

  • A September 14, 2017 (7:24 pm)

    Completely side with Thriftway on this one. It’s their lot and it is a small lot that gets crowded so why would they want a private company staging their vehicles there? I don’t know why AMR feels entitled to park there. Park your vehicles on city streets while you wait for your next call and next person to rip off. AMR is a joke and if you need to get to the hospital you are better off getting a cab or an uber and save yourself the $1000+ that AMR will charge you. If it’s life threatening medic one will take you for free since they are taxpayer funded but if AMR shows up, grab your wallet and run the other way

    • Sam September 14, 2017 (9:31 pm)


  • chemist September 14, 2017 (8:36 pm)

    Let us know when all ambulance rides from the Thriftway parking lot are provided for free and then AMR’s use of the Thriftway customer parking lot for their business will be reasonable.

  • Mike September 14, 2017 (8:36 pm)

    AMR should cut a deal with Thriftway and PAY Thiftway as it’s not a public parking lot.

  • Concerned September 14, 2017 (8:38 pm)

    If AMR wants to lower costs, maybe stop fitting their fleet with Mercedes as their vehicle of choice

    • Jon Wright September 14, 2017 (10:55 pm)

      BZZZT, you lose. Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles are competitively priced with equivalent models of other manufacturers.

    • Paul Twibell September 19, 2017 (5:46 pm)

      AMR ordered them as Dodge’s, but with the split up of that company ended up with Mercedes.  They are now in the process of ordering Ford’s

  • I Banged My Head Or Whatever September 14, 2017 (10:24 pm)

    I just want to say hooray that all the commenters in this thread are off the same understanding on this. A ride from West Seattle to Harborview cost me $950 2 weeks ago. I think they can afford to feed the meter and give some money back to the city they use to fuel the corporate profits they get whenever someone bangs their head or whatever. 

  • WS Res September 14, 2017 (11:05 pm)

    I say this as a person working in a profession that has inside knowledge on how private ambulance services structure themselves. Thriftway is well within their rights to ask AMR to stage their response apparatus in a manner that doesn’t impede the store from accommodating its customers. AMR, like most other for profit ambulance services saves significant money by not providing its response personnel a fixed facility to rest and respond from. They transfer those costs to others (Thriftway in this case) and workload to their employees so the corporation can increase profits. 

  • West Seattle Family September 15, 2017 (7:01 am)

    Deep sigh of relief that our community supports Thriftway, which has been cordial and generous in the face of AMR’s arrogance and poor behavior to drive AMR profits at Thriftway’s expense.  Good point that the hard-working and highly skilled emergency workers deserve a safe place to park and rest between calls!

    Thanks as always to WSB for providing the real truth and this responsible forum!

  • Spokant September 15, 2017 (8:35 am)

    Wow, how dumb is AMR? This day and age did they think the truth would not prevail?

    This kind of crap happens all of the time everywhere. In a large city like this there is no such thing as “free”; the audacity of that company to piggy back the costs of their operations on another company is pathetic.

    Dont be fooled people; we live in an era where large companies everywhere try and offset costs on someone else. If it isn’t in the form of this example, it’s the “fees” we are all forced to pay to do just about everything but breathe these days. And I fully expect that to cost a premium in the future.

  • steve September 15, 2017 (9:11 am)

    “The most recent available figures show AMR in 2010-2011 transported some
    25,000 patients, including 8,736 from rural areas, at an average bill
    of $887.”

     I don’t know what they charge you in 2017 dollars, but you’d think they could afford their own little parking space somewhere. Hey, They can park in front of my house for $500 a month.  C’mon, that’s a good deal!  AND keep the noise down please. For an extra $60, I’ll let you tap into my WIFI.

  • Sara B September 15, 2017 (10:27 am)

    AMR is a terrible company, in my opinion.  They pay their EMTs very poorly, the work environment is reportedly awful, and they price-gouge patients who have few, if any, options.   And then the company burdens other businesses because they’re too cheap to pay their own costs.  Gross.

  • Jason September 15, 2017 (10:31 am)

    I’m not sure why AMR or their drivers think they’re entitled to a private parking lot,  and even worse they decide to act like victims and tarnish the name of a local business when they don’t get to use it.   But this seems like something that could be resolved between the 2 parties with some communication and agreements if its truly a benefit to the community to have them staged there.  

    I don’t know much about the ambulance business but how does the fire department come into play here? Don’t they also have ambulances?

    • Sara B September 15, 2017 (10:59 am)

      My understanding is that AMR takes the less severe injuries and firefighter EMTs deal with the more serious calls.  

    • N/A September 15, 2017 (11:14 am)

      The ambulance services provided by SFD/ King County Medic One are city-owned and taxpayer-funded. AMR and other similar companies (Tri-Med, Falke, former Rural-Metro) are private for-profit companies. Medic One staff are also paramedics, who have much more training and ability to manage complex cases in the prehospital setting, while the private companies use mostly EMTs who have less training (though they typically do have a smaller number of paramedics or nurses who can respond to select cases). There are far fewer Medic One ambulances and paramedics than private ambulances and EMTs, so if less complicated cases still need to be transported to the hospital, Medic One will sign off and the patient will be transported by the private group. 

      I am a former EMT and I do remember it was common practice to “stage” in the parking lot of a separate business at certain times of the day. The staging location varied given the availability and location of the other ambulances around the city. I agree with Thriftway’s argument here but the EMTs are not really at fault; they’re just doing what their management is directing them to do.

  • Paul Twibell September 15, 2017 (5:11 pm)

    I’m an RN with AMR, and live in West Seattle.  It’s important to understand that AMR does not tell employees where to park.  We are given an area to post in. Quite often we are only there a few minutes moments, and other times hours.  Most of the units, posted in West Seattle, are the small Mercedes Vans, not the large Ford box vans.  They only occupy one spot.  

    This whole issue has only to do with poor communication.  There are a few areas we have been asked not to park, so we don’t.  Prior to last weekend I had not heard such a request from anywhere in West Seattle.  

    Our posting plans change frequently.  As needs change we adjust where we post.  If there is an active call with SFD a unit is generally moved closer to that call so our response time will be shortened.  Our quick response time allows SFD to move on to another call.  

    Sure we look for places we can we can park that have a bathroom nearby, or food and great if there is WiFi!!  

    I can not not imagine that Thriftway contacted the AMR office and asked to not have units stage there and that that request was not immediately disseminated to staff.  

    Just St my thoughts and insights, I am not speaking for AMR or other employees, and no, I will not be shopping at THIS Thriftway in the future.

  • Aaron September 15, 2017 (6:59 pm)

    I will continue to shop at Thriftway, and continue to endeavor to not use AMR services!

     I used to live next door to Thriftway, and I know they spend a huge amount of $ to have parking for their customers. If AMR wants to stage their for-profit vehicles, they should pay, and not just a soda and a bag of chips. 

     Thanks to all involved to get the real story out. Hopefully AMR will step up and do the right thing, but somehow I doubt they will. 

    • miws September 16, 2017 (9:28 am)

      Aaron brings up a good point. 

      Sometime after the “new” Thriftway opened in March of 1998, around a year after a fire destroyed the original store, which was to be demolished anyway for the already planned new store, (original plans were to keep the old store open, while the new one was being built), Thriftway’s landlord acquired the neighboring lot on the 42nd Av side, sold the existing house to another party, who moved it elsewhere in West Seattle. The sale took place in October 1998, the price; $250,000.00. 

      Of course, I don’t know what Thriftway ownership may have paid toward it, but, presumably, their monthly rent is higher than it would be without that lot. 

      Another point that just came to mind, and it’s related to the last paragraph of my above comment from a couple days ago, where I Copy/Pasted what I’d posted on Thriftway’s FB page, and in regards to the part of banks, for example, not allowing parking of patrons of neighboring businesses use their lot during the bank’s closed hours (unless arrangements have been made).  

      Many years ago, and I think there may have been other instances elsewhere, there was a big debacle over people going to the Jack-in-the-Box up on Broadway on Capitol Hill. People, some of them who had actually made a purchase at JitB, were leaving their cars in JitB’s already crowded, small lot, and then going to visit some other nearby business(es). JitB would have the car towed, (note that this is separate from the “predatory towing” issue we all have heard about) the customer would be angry stating they had just eaten there and needed to visit a neighboring business “real quick”. But, the fact is, once one’s business is finished with a business, they are no longer an active customer and are no longer entitled to park on the property.

      Also, in regards to “real quick’; my 15 years in the parking business in the ’80’s and ’90’s taught me that a customer’s perception of “real quick” was much different than my own. Sometimes it seemed as if a “real quick” customer came in at 8:00 am, I clocked out for lunch at noon for lunch, back in an hour later, they come out a half-hour after that and say; “See!  I told you ‘real quick’!” Then they couldn’t understand why they were paying the 4-6 hour parking rate, instead of the minimum rate, or nothing at all. ;-) 

      And, yes, on a more serious note, many of them had all intentions of being 5 minutes or less and ran into an unexpected delay, but there were also many others that knew they’d be much longer. 


  • West Seattle Family September 15, 2017 (8:22 pm)

    It would be very interesting to publish the documented communication between AMR and Thriftway, given the apparent lack of information or direction provided to AMR employees from AMR leadership, prompting the very loyal AMR employee post we see from Paul.  

    Paul stated that “AMR does not tell employees where to park.”  Instead, employees “are given an area to park in.”  Pretty convenient for AMR, indeed, to look the other way when their employees are using private parking for free when AMR certainly has the means to reimburse or defray these parking costs.  

    Sorry, not cool.  With all due respect to the skilled AMR professionals, this is kind of like letting your dog poop on someone else’s grass and then saying you don’t need to know it’s happening.

  • CeeBee September 15, 2017 (9:19 pm)

    For what it’s worth, for many months AMR parked next to the High Point Library, on Raymond Street.  And where did they park?  On the west side of the sign that indicated “No Parking” west of the sign.  I could not figure out how they got away with it, their big van blocking what was supposed to be the turn-in area on the narrow street.  Hadn’t seen that lately, now I know where they went.

    I understand that they want to be near restrooms and wi-fi, but to disregard legal parking signs in one place and an owners request in another place – that shows disregard and disrespect and I’m glad they got called on it.  

Sorry, comment time is over.