There are a few things that people from Rochester tend to be passionate about. Bock Beer. Garbage plates. And, yes, Wegmans. For those of you who live elsewhere, and are wondering what a Wegmans is, well, it’s just a grocery store. But lots of people from Rochester are enamored with it.
I used to be blinded by the siren song of Wegmans’ large and pretty flagship store. Oh, the decadent smells of the wonderful delicacies of the patisserie! Ah, experience the novelty of a regular deli and a kosher deli! Laud the delectable pre-made calzones, the yummy sushi, the in-store pizza shop, the Godiva counter. I readily admit that it is a truly fabulous place to go if you want pre-made food.
My beef with Wegmans is primarily that they very heavily push their store brand, to the exclusion of things I want. For example, I wanted Boca breakfast “sausage” links last month. In Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, I could have gone to Giant Eagle, Acme or Tops and fulfilled my mission in just a few minutes. In Rochester, NY, I went to THREE Wegmans stores and none of them carried this fake breakfast meat. Ditto favorite pasta sauces. Or the brand, style and number of rolls of toilet paper I want to buy. These are things I can get at the Kroger when I’m vacationing on Lake Erie (where the nearest city is 30 minutes away.) It shouldn’t be so hard for Wegmans to carry what I want.
But people here don’t know what they are missing (and would argue that they aren’t missing anything) since Wegmans is what they’ve always known. Wegmans IS a locally-owned company. And reports indicate that it’s also a good employer. I’m just not smitten.
Unfortunately, the only other major grocery chain here is Tops. And those stores don’t exactly provide the most pleasant shopping experience. I used to love grocery shopping. Then I moved to New York. Now it’s a chore.
On a related note, I also blame Wegmans for being the reason we don’t have a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. Wegmans devotees can’t see how they’d want or need either of those chains and so I believe those retailers don’t even bother to compete. How I wish they would.