So, Wegman’s…

I was so intrigued by this place because friends who lived near one previously positively drooled over its arrival.  People traveled untoward distances to visit the others that opened in this state previously.  I had to see what all the fuss is about.

The store is very big – like a big Target – but has the same categories as a regular grocery store.  Some are just bigger.  Because of this it is overwhelming and I didn’t really feel comfortable until my 3rd visit (I went 4 times.)  Once I was over myself and able to think rationally I came up with a few bullet points:

  • A lot of square footage is occupied by departments I won’t/will barely use – prepared foods and organic. The variety is excellent in both areas if those are things you value.  For me it was nice to realize I could just ignore them.
  • Some departments are bigger and better staffed than your typical grocery store giving a more gourmet feel – think deli, cheese counter, and bakery. I didn’t study them enough to compare pricing, but the variety was definitely better in both areas.
  • There are not as many options. It’s mostly Wegman’s brand.  Similarly, I looked for salad dressing and had one brand name choice.  So, you need to like/learn to like the Wegman’s brand.  I will say that I would buy the store brand items we selected again, though not go out of my way to do so.
  • Many things are pre-done. Deli meats are pre-sliced, though I’m told they’ll slice them fresh if you prefer.  Seafood is cut to portion size.  Meats are packaged individually or as meals.  If the sizes work for you that’s great, but it didn’t always for me.  So, I felt odd finding someone to track down so I could get the amount I needed.   Since they’re all about customer service, I shouldn’t feel weird.  But, since it took effort and obviously nobody else was having this issue I did.
  • I did some price checking. This was made incredibly easy by their app, which shows real time pricing.  So, I went to my regular store and stood in the aisles and decided not to buy things if they were cheaper at Wegman’s since I was going there later in the week.  For what I checked (all major brand name aisle items), Wegman’s was cheaper when the item was not on sale at the regular grocery store.  But, if the item was on sale it was 50/50 whether it was the same price or cheaper at Stop & Shop.
  • The app is a big improvement over the Stop & Shop app. It’s easy to put things on your list.  Those items then show the price and aisle to help navigate the big store.  It does require going back a lot, which is odd.  It also lets me see what items Wegman’s doesn’t carry.
  • My biggest pet peeve is that it seems to be impossible to get a list of what’s on sale. They send a flyer, but it includes a few sale items with mostly regular priced stuff they want to feature.  Plus, in the store you find a lot on sale that isn’t in the flyer.  So, as of now I’ve made a list of stuff I regularly buy in the app so I can price check against a Stop & Shop sale flyer.  But, it means I’d miss out on sales for items I only buy once in a while.
  • My guess is that if one didn’t sale shop and just bought the same thing every week, one would come out ahead at Wegman’s. But, I do sale shop and I’m pretty sure I can come out ahead or at least break even at Stop & Shop.
  • Stop & Shop is much closer to me so breaking even is a win. I still can’t imagine how I would get to Wegman’s this month as it requires driving past the mall which is already a traffic horror area this time of year.
  • With all their advertising of “Family Packs”, I had real hopes that I could cut down on my BJs visits. But, the Family Pack of apples I got turned out to be in bad shape – worse than I’ve ever gotten at BJs.  And, that was after picking through the bags to try to grab the best one.  (They boys have eaten them anyway.)  Also, the meat packages are so small that they don’t necessarily make sense for us.  And, the meat pricing didn’t compare to BJs.
  • The meat department does have a much larger selection of roasts and other large meats (not primal) than either Stop & Shop or BJs. So, we may well be going there vs the local meat shop as the prices are much better.

In summary, I will be back.  But, it is unlikely to become my regular grocery store.  Their sales last a long time and I can price check so next time I need to stock up on aisle items I can run the app and see if a trip makes sense.

Sometime I’m going to give Aldi a try too.  It’s a bit farther even than Wegman’s so it’s less likely to be a regular visit.  But, I have to see what all the hype is about!