Monday, June 22, 2009
Wegman's Grand Opening
You know you live in a small town when a supermarket grand opening is a very big deal. Although I think Wegman’s is more than a supermarket...it seems like more of a culinary amusement park to me. Yes, there are the usual groceries, but the big attraction seems to be all of the prepared foods, gourmet specialties, extensive bakery, well-staffed cheese department, upscale meats & seafood, plus the eat-in options: the market cafe, seafood bar, Asian bar, pizza, subs, sushi, etc., etc., etc. We got there around noon on opening day, parked in one of the parking lots of an adjacent hotel, and then made our way through the hordes to see what we could see. It was elbow-to-elbow people, really too crowded to give it a fair assessment. I have to say, the deli, bakery, meats & seafood sections looked very impressive. The prices seemed reasonable, and the staff-to-customer ratio on opening day was high. The free samples were flowing, and we nabbed as many as we could find. Jim Canty & Friends were playing in the wine section (they are scheduled for the library steps tonight), where you could sample mimosas. We checked out all of the sections, bought some fresh breads and tasty cheeses (ah, yes, a cheese department where I could get recommendations and sample cheese before buying is the one thing I’ve been waiting for), picked up our free recyclable shopping bag, and headed home.
I definitely get what the buzz was all about. Wegman’s has everything I can imagine needing in a supermarket and then some. But on the other hand, I’m not sure this is where I will choose to do my weekly shopping. I think the good old Giant, five minutes from home, will still be my go-to store. Sure, sometimes the World’s Fair of Food is what you’re looking for, but sometimes, you just want your shopping trip to be a quick and easy in and out, and that probably won’t be Wegman’s for me...at least not until the novelty wears off and the crowds die down. And here’s something that really bugged me: they wouldn’t let me take photos. Honestly, when I went to take a photo of the guy working the seafood bar, he got quite irate and told me photos were forbidden in the store (corroborated by other employees I asked), despite the fact I told him it was just for my blog. Were they afraid I was a corporate spy? Or do they just want to be able to control precisely how their store is viewed, to keep anyone from showing any imperfections?
I still need to give the Wegman’s shopping experience a thorough try-out, and that just wasn’t possible on opening day. But it sure does look nice.
This is the bread and cheese we bought for a Father's Day treat: