The Daily Ping

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March 3rd, 2004

The Cult of Wegmans

To the uninitiated, Wegmans looks like just another grocery store. But, as one just opened up near my place of employment this past Sunday, I’m here to tell you: it’s a lot more.

Wegmans started in New York state and now the Rochester-based chain has stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Virginia. When a co-worker originally from Rochester heard that a Wegmans was opening nearby, she couldn’t contain her excitement. She gushed about their amazing baked goods, their great selection of fruits, vegetables, and meats, and the general atmosphere that defines the “Wegmans experience.” As opening day got closer, the hype grew in the DC area. Articles appeared in the Washington Post and people started lining up at 5:30am.

So, last night I decided to give Wegmans a shot to see what all the noise was about.

The best way I can describe it is as a combination of Giant/Safeway/Acme (pick your favorite “regular” supermarket), Fresh Field’s/Trader Joe’s (pick your favorite large health food market/gourmet food store), Target, and a kitchen store. Then tack on a restaurant and a bakery and you’ve got Wegmans. It’s one big store, that’s for sure.

Even though the parking lot was packed when I went, it seemed like there were even more employees than shoppers. I was told by the checkout clerk that several hundred employees from New York came down to help with the opening of this store and have taken up occupancy in all the nearby hotels. Most will return in a few weeks, once the store gets on its feet and the new employees are trained and comfortable in their roles. Wegmans, apparently, puts a big emphasis on its customer service.

Pricewise, they’re not too bad. On certain items, particularly processed foods, your local Giant will undersell them. On the health food/specialty items, their prices are generally in line with Fresh Fields, and maybe a little cheaper. In terms of selection, though, they have an awful lot. Every time I turned my head, it seemed like a new aisle of food had appeared and that I’d never escape the labyrinth of shelves and freezer aisles.

So, yeah, Wegmans is pretty nice. I see myself shopping there a couple times a month, particularly for the harder-to-find specialty items and vegetarian convenience foods (though I certainly won’t give up my local health food store(s), either). At the same time, I’m a little scared by the cult-like mentality of the Wegmans clientele. In one article I read, on opening day people were walking up and down the aisles yelling out which Wegmans they used to shop at and were able to find others that used to shop there as well. And tonight, the woman in front of me checking out couldn’t stop declaring, “I love Wegmans! This is why I love Wegmans! I’m so glad there’s Wegmans here! Wegmans Wegmans Wegmans!”

Posted in Food and Beverage

FROM: jk
DATE: Wednesday March 3, 2004 -- 8:30:11 am
It sounds a little like the Byerlee's experience in Minneapolis. I am sure I misspelled it though. When my brother was being recruited by a Mpls firm, I swear they took him there to show him how the Minnesotans shop.



FROM: Paul
DATE: Wednesday March 3, 2004 -- 8:49:40 am
Sounds almost like Meijer, but smaller.

jk, don't bring up Byerly's. They had opened one location in Chicago and it only hung on for a year or so... it was the most fantastic grocery shopping experience I ever had.



FROM: Rob [E-Mail]
DATE: Wednesday March 3, 2004 -- 10:09:13 am
Still haven't made it there yet, but I need to know... did they have Pepsi in glass bottles like the one in Ithaca had? Inquiring Sarahs want to know.



FROM: Ryan [E-Mail]
DATE: Wednesday March 3, 2004 -- 12:05:39 pm
Hm. Not sure, Rob.



FROM: jk
DATE: Wednesday March 3, 2004 -- 1:37:08 pm
Paul, I always feel under-dressed at Byerly's....it's so....luxurious!



FROM: aharris
DATE: Wednesday March 3, 2004 -- 2:21:13 pm
Wow, I'm jealous. We don't have anything near as cool here in CA. ;)

Hell, I order my groceries online at Albertsons.com. I haven't been inside a grocery store in years (aside from the occaisional pop-in).



FROM: Alex C.
DATE: Wednesday March 3, 2004 -- 4:22:33 pm
Maybe we should pitch a movie tie-in to managment:

Dawn of the Wegmans

:P

Alex



FROM: dave
DATE: Wednesday March 3, 2004 -- 4:47:24 pm
I am a proud Wegmans cultist. I believe another Wegmans will be coming to Fairfax County in the near future.

Many, many years ago, shortly after what was at the time the largest Wegmans store in the chain opened in my hometown, I predicted an epic battle between Wegmans and Walmart. I think on a regional scale, it's already beginning, what with Walmart Supercenters spreading across the land like a plague. Wegmans can easily compete, and they treat their employees far better.



FROM: Ryan [E-Mail]
DATE: Wednesday March 3, 2004 -- 7:03:50 pm
Interestingly, I think the Wegman's in Dulles is where an old Wal-Mart used to be.



FROM: Mike
DATE: Wednesday March 3, 2004 -- 10:08:51 pm
Another Wegmans cult member here!!! I grew up with them in Rochester and I put my grocery shopping on hold for two weeks until they opened.

WEGMANS, WEGMANS, WEGMANS!!! :-)

At least come by to check out their produce and bakery section alone.



FROM: towinlovinit
DATE: Thursday March 4, 2004 -- 9:03:15 am
We don't have one of those here in the NW. Could use a Wegman's if they take better care of their employees. Walmart just pays min. wage. Send one on out here...



FROM: Rob [E-Mail]
DATE: Thursday March 4, 2004 -- 9:51:13 am
Ryan -- Yup, that's where a Walmart used to be until they closed it to move to the newer plaza over by the mall. I was wondering if they were EVER going to do anything with that space.



FROM: Adrian
DATE: Tuesday March 30, 2004 -- 3:58:00 pm
I too grew up in the Rochester area (Geneseo). Just went to the Wegmans in Dulles on sunday, spent 4 hours there with my wife and left $250 poorer. They even have Zwigles White Hots! No Genesee Cream Ale, but i left a note in the suggestion box about that....

I LOVE WEGMANS



FROM: Ryan [E-Mail]
DATE: Friday April 2, 2004 -- 6:41:14 pm
I've been meaning to mention my positive customer service experience at Wegman's that may help convert me to the cult...

I was looking for a product and asked an employee for some help. She didn't know exactly where it would be found, but she walked me down a couple of aisles where she thought it might be located. It wasn't anywhere and I could sense that she really didn't have any other ideas, so I told her, "Don't worry about it... I'm going to go up and down some more aisles anyway, so I'm sure I'll come across it sooner or later. Go ahead back to whatever you were doing..." and I thanked her for her help. A few minutes later, I did find the product. A few minutes after that, she came running up to me, in a totally separate aisle, and said, "There you are! I found it... it's in the ___ aisle." With the size of that store I couldn't believe she found me, but even beyond that I couldn't believe she continued to look for the product and then attempted to hunt me down afterwards. I can't think of any other store of that magnitude that's shown that kind of service in the past.



FROM: disgruntled grunt
DATE: Monday April 12, 2004 -- 11:14:49 am
Hi , I work at squatmans.I stock in the grocery department.I know that in citys that have wegmans there is always a group of residents who think they are very special because the go to wegmans.This sort of thing is very bad in Corning N.Y . People there will buy the generic wegmans food even though it is more expensive and of less quality.Then they are proud of this.



FROM: dave
DATE: Monday April 12, 2004 -- 6:22:03 pm
Wow, another former Geneseo resident! I've always said, it's a great place to be from...

Though I'm not sure I could spend 4 hours in any grocery store.

And as for how they treat their employees - they usually end up on those lists of "great places to work" and they have decent scholarship programs aetc.



FROM: ilk
DATE: Wednesday January 12, 2005 -- 12:54:47 pm
Byerly's? GMAFB. They don't hold a candle to Wegmans. Yes, they have chandeliers and good wild rice soup, but overall the quality of their food doesn't even come close to Wegmans.



FROM: patrick
DATE: Thursday January 27, 2005 -- 1:17:17 pm
Blylees is a great store, and the pharmacy is second to none. Weganans is good if you like pickels, they have a big barrel that the kids love to snack on while my girlfriend shops. Keep up the highbar. Pat



FROM: Randall
DATE: Thursday January 27, 2005 -- 1:22:38 pm
At least get the spelling write. Wegmans has it all, and more. We just got one in Carmel NY and the town went nuts. They put the Kitchen Goodies in a tough spot, as they carry similar items for less. They also have party paltters that make a party fun, and have the hats for different occassions. Wegmang hooray!



FROM: Tracey
DATE: Tuesday February 22, 2005 -- 1:16:16 pm
I LOVE Wegmans, Wegmans, Wegmans!!!
They rule living in the DC area and not having a Wegmans was miserable now everything is all good.
Also, spending 4 hours in that store is not hard to do at all.



FROM: Kerianne
DATE: Monday July 18, 2005 -- 4:44:37 pm
I know this is late to comment on your ping, but i searched and I found it. Wegmans is not even close to be like Meijer. Much more class. I am from Rochester NY and work at their Pittsford store which is their trademark store. Wegmans is a great addition to any community, and there is so much that they can do for you.



FROM: Michael
DATE: Tuesday December 6, 2005 -- 7:46:13 am
ALL HAIL WEGMANS!!!!



...seriously, they're the best.



FROM: Cait!
DATE: Friday July 7, 2006 -- 1:24:29 am
I know that it's waaaay late to be commenting on this, and I really wasn't planning on it...but I work at a Wegmans in PA and it really is a great store. I don't think I could think of a better place to work. It's true, they do base a lot of orientation of customer service...like...four hours. Hah. The schorship program is pretty good too...hopefully I'll get it next year =] I'm not sure why I'm still even typing this...oh well!

Wegmans Wegmans Wegmans!

=D



FROM: jk
DATE: Sunday August 13, 2006 -- 4:32:24 pm
My brother is renting an apartment in State College PA and his wife excitedly informed me that there is a Wegman's nearby. I still can't see how it could be better than Whole Foods, although the comparison to Trader Joe's certainly has me intrigued. I will check it out the first week in September when I am up there for a game.

They are also putting one near Harrisburg and people seem to be happy about that.



FROM: JB
DATE: Sunday August 13, 2006 -- 6:12:20 pm
I'm actually an employee at Wegmans, I have been for 6 years. I began as a cashier. Wegmans treats their employees fairly well. However there's a slight problem with some of their management and customer service policies. Like any company they have their share of egotistical managers and they've focused their customer service policy to an extent of please the customer "no matter what". This "no matter what" entitlement attitude/culture results in some customers taking advantage of and manipulating employees to slash prices and to take scoldings for things such as high prices? I explained to one lady once prices are high because people continue to pay that price for it, if you don't buy the product, the price drops. The beauty of supply and demand. Because of this gradual customer service policy the amount of rudeness from customers has increased ten fold. Wegmans has created a good service atmosphere, however it may backfire on them in the future.



jk September 4, 2006, 1:01 am

Well, I went to the PSU Wegman’s and was blown away. Truly (the remnants of Ernesto were blowing through!).

I enjoyed the layout of the store as well as the wide array of organic foods, ymmu baked items, and the cafe` where you can rest and watch bigscreen college football while eating your carry-out meal!

My sister-in-law needed for the cashier to line-void an item, a task which proved to be impossible. (???) Despite that, I think I was there three times in three days. My dad will flip when he sees the fruit tarts. Have you ever seen so many different kinds of olives and hummus? Holy abundance. Their freshly-made chicken pot pie was fanastic.

I am waiting for my shopper’s card to arrive in the mail! I’ll be back there again in a couple weeks.

I think I belong to the cult.

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