- Wegmans, a regional grocer with a cult-like following in New England and the mid-Atlantic, just opened its 101st store in Brooklyn, New York.
- More than 25,000 people came to the store on opening day, many of them waiting for hours in the rain to nab a spot at the front of the line.
- “Some people go to the Super Bowl, some people go to Tour de France,” said Wegmans lover Susan Myers, who was at the front of the line at the grand opening on Sunday. “I come to the Wegmans opening.”
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Other than its cult following, Wegmans should be an average regional grocer.
With just over 100 stores in the New England and mid-Atlantic regions, the grocery chain is relatively small. But people can’t get enough of this grocer that has the best reputation in America, according to a March ranking of America’s 100 most visible brands by Axios and the Harris Poll. Wegmans beat out companies like Amazon and Costco in that ranking.
According to a representative for the grocer, more than 25,000 people showed up to the grand opening of Wegmans’ 101st store in Brooklyn, New York, on Sunday, and the location broke opening-day sales records for the chain. Many people stood in the rain for hours in a line that stretched around the block.
“The Brooklyn store opening was an incredibly exciting day for our family company,” a Wegmans representative said. “Despite heavy rainfall, hundreds of people lined up around the block before dawn yesterday.”
Shopper Susan Myers came at midnight to be the first person in line for the opening.
“Wegmans is a destination,” she said. “It’s the place that we love.”
The regional grocer’s store openings have drawn large crowds in the past. Wegmans recently opened its 100th store in Raleigh, North Carolina, and broke records when more than 3,000 people waited in line on its opening day, the Raleigh News and Observer reported.
From the woman who waited seven hours in line to get the first receipt to the shoppers who made their own T shirts for the occasion, here are the fanatics who came to the Brooklyn Wegmans opening on Sunday.
The Brooklyn Wegmans store officially opened at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning. By 6:45 a.m., the line to get in stretched around the block.
Despite the rain, lovers of Wegmans waited in line outside, some for hours.
The most devoted Wegmans fans were found near the front of the line. Jessica Gonzalez was one of the first people in line at 4:30 a.m.
“We’ve been going to Wegmans for decades,” said the 36-year-old Brooklyn resident, noting that before the opening of this store, she would often use freezer packs to bring groceries back from a Wegmans in Rochester, New York, after visits upstate. “So the love is real,” she said.
Inside, hordes of employees prepared to welcome customers into the store for the very first time.
When it came time to open the doors, excited shoppers piled through the entrance. Most of them looked thrilled to be there.
Some shoppers had waited multiple hours in the rain for this moment, and many employees applauded the customers as they entered.
Susan Myers was the first person in line at Wegmans at midnight and was also responsible for making the first purchase at the new location.
Myers is a member of Women of Wegmans, a group of fans that has attended more than 10 Wegmans store openings and seeks to make the first purchase at each store.
“Some people go to the Super Bowl, some people go to Tour de France,” said Myers, holding her prized first receipt, which she got from her speedy purchase of a fruit bar. “I come to the Wegmans opening.”
As the morning stretched on, the store got increasingly crowded with shoppers.
Yet throughout the store, it was not difficult to find Wegmans fans, or “Wegmaniacs,” as some people call them.
Sisters Marie Palmer (left) and Kathryn Cortez (right) grew up going to Wegmans together. Cortez, now married, flew in from Wisconsin to be with her sister for opening day. Both sisters wore “Wegmaniacs” T shirts for the occasion.
“This is so exciting,” said Marissa Blokus, who got to the Brooklyn store at 5 a.m. A self-described Wegmaniac, Blokus said she has been to every Wegmans store in the state of Massachusetts.
Both Mars Ballantyne (left) and Caleb Churchill (right) moved to Brooklyn after graduating college in Rochester — the birthplace of Wegmans — in May. “[Wegmans] was one of the things we knew we were going to miss about Rochester the most,” Ballantyne said.
Churchill was sporting a T shirt that combined a black metal band album cover with Wegmans. When asked what the two have in common, he replied, “They both have cult followings.”
“I’m like family here,” said Stacy Hegedus, who came with her husband, Tim, to opening day. Stacy used to commute with a cooler once a week to a Wegmans store in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, from Long Beach Island, New Jersey — a journey that can take an hour by car.
Hegedus was sporting a Wegmans jacket and said that when she had breast cancer seven years ago, a Wegmans employee delivered groceries to her for three weeks, a factor that contributed to her love for the store.
“The people in here are very, very nice,” Stacy said.
“I always say our secret sauce is our people,” store manager Kevin Cuff said when asked why Wegmans has such a cult following. “People can copy our buildings, can copy our products that we sell, but they can’t copy our people.”
Many Wegmans fans cite the superior customer service as one of the best aspects of the store.
Source: Business Insider
Cuff is leading more than 500 employees at Wegmans Brooklyn. And every employee we saw on opening day looked as ecstatic as the customers to be there.
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