- Wegmans is a beloved US grocery chain with a loyal following.
- The regional grocery chain has the best reputation in America according toa ranking of America’s 100 most visible brands in March by Axios and the Harris Poll, beating out companies like Amazon and Costco.
- The chain has 100 stores across seven states and recently opened its first North Carolina store in Raleigh to record-breaking crowds. More than 30,000 people came on opening day, the Raleigh News and Observer reported.
- From products to store atmosphere, here are eight reasons people can’t get enough of Wegmans, according to four Wegmans fanatics and one new Wegmans shopper.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Wegmans might be considered a small player when it comes to grocers, but its impact is big.
When it comes to scale, Wegmans is on the smaller side. Trader Joe’s has 488 stores across the US and Whole Foods has 500 stores in North America and the United Kingdom. Wegmans just opened its 100th store in Raleigh and broke records when more than 30,000 people came to its opening day, the Raleigh News and Observer reported.
It is clear that the Wegmans fan base is strong and devoted. The term “Wegmaniac” has even been used to describe those with a particular obsession for the grocery chain.
Cheri McDonald, a self-described Wegmaniac, said she scouted out the new Raleigh store days before the actual opening to nab a spot at the front of the line. “Wegmans is not a grocery store,” said McDonald, whose first job was actually at a Wegmans in Rochester, New York, Wegmans’ home city. “Wegmans is an experience.”
We spoke to four people who love Wegmans and one relatively new Wegmans shopper to find out why the grocery chain has a cult-like following. We discovered eight main reasons the store is so obsessed over, from products to store experience.
1. Customer Service
The customer service at Wegmans is a reason to love the store, fanatics explained.
“Every employee is focused on the customer and ready to serve with a genuine joy that just seems to be unique to the Wegmans family,” said McDonald.
Elizabeth Sile, who has been shopping Wegmans her entire life, worked part-time in a Wegmans in Ithaca, New York for two years as a college student.
“They have a whole team of ‘helping hands’ that will help you load your car or push your cart, if you’re unable to do so,” she said. “This is truly what makes Wegmans stand out and be on another level from Trader Joe’s, Aldi, etc.”
Christian Phillips, a Wegmans fan who lives in Virginia, also praised the service and said that the Wegmans employees that he knows spend their whole lives working there.
Wegmans offers a variety of products. The store has large international foods and cheese sections, as well as a bakery, deli, and seafood and meat counters.
“Their selection of goods are [sic] OUT OF THIS WORLD,” wrote Danielle Lawrence, a self-described Wegmaniac, in an email. A flight attendant who splits her time between Florida and New York City, Lawrence had her first job at a Wegmans when she was 15-years old.
“They cater to the masses, there is something for everyone within Wegmans,” she said.
Sile praised the selection at Wegmans, specifically the produce.
“You don’t realise how good their produce section is until you have to shop at other grocery stores,” she said.
3. Wegmans-brand products
Like many grocery chains, Wegmans sells products under its own name. Among Wegmans fanatics, these products are beloved.
Phillips, the Virginia-based fanatic, said that the Wegmans-brand items are often better than name brands. And other Wegmaniacs seem to agree.
“Wegmans brand products are abundant, well-priced, and exceed quality expectations for a store brand!” said McDonald, who created a Facebook page in anticipation of the opening of the Wegmans in Raleigh. “There are many products you can only find at Wegmans; some because they are native to Rochester, [New York] (or other nearby areas) and some because they are original to Wegmans.”
A great selection of goods isn’t worth much if the quality doesn’t measure up. Luckily, Wegmaniacs say that the quality of Wegmans is pervasive, from food to service.
“They are the Chick-fil-A of grocery stores,” said Phillips, who grew up shopping at Wegmans. “Everything there is just better and the service is amazing.”
McDonald spoke similarly.
“They are consistent in quality and their commitment to the customer,” she said.
Wegmans has a generous return policy that allows customers to get a replacement for any product that was unsatisfactory.
“Our goal is to do such a good job providing the finest quality products that you never have to bring anything back,” the Wegmans website reads. “However, the reality is that every now and then, a return is necessary.”
5. Low prices
Wegmans is known for its prices.
“The prices are always competitive and appealing,” Lawrence said when explaining what she loves about the store.
Faye Prosser, a relatively new Wegmans shopper who writes a column on shopping for WRAL-TV in Raleigh North Carolina, said though she hasn’t shopped at Wegmans her whole life, she already loves how affordable the selection is there.
“As a new Wegmans shopper, I am not yet a Wegmaniac,” she said. “But, as a grocery deals blogger, I am very impressed with their low everyday prices on staple items including milk, eggs, yogurt, bread, almond milk, broccoli, apples, grapes, lettuce, cereal, peanut butter and more!”
Business Insider’s Kate Taylor and Hollis Johnson visited a Charlottesville, Virginia Wegmans in March and found a selection of wines for just $US6.
6. Community engagement and activism
Wegmans is known for its history of charitable donations and community outreach programs.
According to its website, Wegmans donates over 14.5 million pounds of food to local food banks and soup kitchens every year. Shoppers have noticed the generous tendencies of Wegmans, making it another reason they love the store.
“Wegmans is always donating and giving back to the community as well as always doing what it can for each shopper that steps inside,” said Lawrence.
Wegmans is also known for working with local farmers in its business through its partner network of over 400 family farms.
“They incorporate local farmers, food producers, and fishermen and give back to the community long before they even open their doors in any given location,” said McDonald.
7. Store design
Wegmans isn’t quite as committed to a theme as Trader Joe’s, the nautical-themed grocer that calls its employees “crew members,” but the regional grocer is still loved for its subtle and homey design.
The store is meant to feel like a European open-air market, according to the company’s website. This is accomplished through displays of fresh produce with eye-popping signs, a large area with fresh food, and different subtle design elements that reinforce the atmosphere.
Sile said that the small details in the store make Wegmans stand out as something special. “For example: When it’s corn season, there are bins so you can shuck the ears in-store, and they will dispose of the husks,” she said.
The store design is also easy user-friendly and easy to manoeuvre.
“The store layouts and how they have everything sorted and organised is a breeze,” said Lawrence. “It is so easy to spend a short or long amount of time inside.”
8. Personal store experience
“Growing up, you couldn’t go to Wegmans without running into someone you know,” said Phillips. “It was like a social hub in addition to being a grocery store.”
Wegmans is on the smaller side of grocery chains and mostly exists outside of major cities. This feature might be what makes the chain feel like a part of home instead of a regular store to pick up groceries.
“Wegmans was always simply just a part of our lives,” said McDonald. “Mum saying ‘I’m running up to Wegmans!’ was an almost-daily occurrence. Dad asking if I wanted to ride with him to Wegmans to get ice cream at 9:00 pm on a Saturday night wasn’t anything unusual and became a very special time for us.”
Lawrence actually met her her boyfriend of seven years at a Wegmans when she was working at the store as a teenager. Her boyfriend delivered Pepsi to her store location and they became friends and eventually started dating.
“It is all thanks to Wegmans,” she said. “If I weren’t an employee there who knows if I would have ever met the love of my life!”
For many Wegmans lovers, the store is more than a place to buy groceries. There is something intangible about the chain that endears it in the hearts of its shoppers.
As McDonald put it, “Wegmans just simply knows how to be the BEST. And you can feel it the moment you step through the front door.”