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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Wegman's Tour with pictures

       Yesterday I had a chance to tour the new Wegman's and my only take away was "Why would we shop anywhere else?"  It is everything I could think of in a store.  You can see why it is not unusual for over a thousand people to be waiting in line for the grand openings.  The Columbia store opening at 7 am tomorrow will be the 80th store opened by the chain that started in Rochester, New York in 1916.  The owner/managers of the company are now the 3rd generation to run the company. The Columbia store is 135,000 square feet with 700 parking spaces.  This is the usual size for stores they are presently opening.  The smaller lot size is the reason that the eating section is on the second level and a two level parking garage was built.  Since it is such a nice architectural design it is too bad the parking garage blocks the view of the store from Snowden Parkway.  100-150 addition people will be brought in for the first week to handle the traffic control and service needs of the initial influx with an opening.

    In addition to being a fantastic shopping experience it is a great place to work and is usually on any industry list of "best places to work."  Fortune Magazine listed it number 4 in its 2012 one hundred best places to work.  It offers a full range of benefits for both part and full time employees that includes health, educational and retirement benefits.  Over 85 million dollars has been provided for education to over 2600 employees.  The company has a strong hire from within philosophy with a clear career track for employees. Wendy Webster the store manager started with Wegmans over 21 years ago as a deli manger trainee.  Over 10,000 applications were received for the 700 jobs at the store. Employees hired speak over 20 languages and have been training in other stores for the past few months.

    In planning a visit to the store you should know that it really is a number of different sections that make this store different.  It may even require a couple of visits or an extended time to shop there.  This isn't like shopping at Giant.  Also plan on eating there because the choices are amazing.

The food court are offers many ethnic choices such as Indian, Asian, Thai and Mexican.
The food bar offers freshly prepared foods from burgers, soups, salads, seafood baskets and pan-seared seafood
 Onsite Sub Shop
Freshly made Sushi includes raw, cooked and veggie

Vegetarians will be pleased with the selections in the food court
A sample of the many dining seating areas
For those looking for a quick take out there are set price meals in the 6-8 dollar range that give you a choice of one meat and two side dishes
Cakes and French pastries are all made on site
Each store tries to have locally made items so expect to see Maryland specific items and of course Maryland crabs
For those used to buying in bulk for families there are the club pack and bulk items
The cheese section with over 300 specialty cheeses will be worth the visit
Extensive fresh cut floral shop
Large selection of organic products like the meats above.  Even kosher foods available
Large gluten free section
Seasonal section now with summer items
Fresh seafood section sold the day it was caught and will even have some samples of cooked seafood
Very large produce section with over 700 different fruits and vegetables- over 100 organic
View of the regular grocery area where you will find the normal grocery items
Grocery cart escalator to go to eating seating areas and upper level parking
26 lines for checkout
    Wegman's representatives indicated that they always plan to be priced below other grocery stores in the area for similar products.  Many of the Wegman brand items will be the best bargains.  The specialty items of course will be prices accordingly. As with many stores there are lots of samples of foods and it sounds like you can almost make a meal with the samples especially the first week.

     Finally being a good community partner it donated 17,000 pounds of non-perishable food to the Howard County Food Bank last month.
Check out the activities for this weekend and the Columbia Arts Festival.

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