I had such high hopes for this post. I had visions of award-winning photos and detailed food descriptions and, potentially, sidebar stories gleaned from employees I ran into. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out quite as well as I’d hoped…
First of all, I had planned on making an afternoon of it; as in having like FOUR HOURS to spend there both exploring and getting some really great shots. OK, maybe not quite that long, but you know what I mean. Well, time got away from me and I ended up feeling rushed with only two hours and a short list of items to hunt for–all in a GIANT (and as I would soon discover, packed) store I didn’t know my way around in. Not a smart plan.
Then, just as I’m taking some outside shots, a man in a Wegmans polo who appeared to have some sort of authority started interrogating me about my camera. Apparently there is no photography allowed in Wegmans. Seriously? I mean, when I was in Public Affairs we got a little antsy when we saw people taking pictures of the flightline, but that was a MILITARY INSTALLATION. But a grocery store?! Anyway, I politely explained that I just had a simple, little old blog and wanted to share with my family and friends the wonders of Wegmans. The manager graciously allowed me to take photos inside, but warned me to “keep it casual.” (In hindsight, especially with my background, I probably should have sought prior permission to take pictures, but then again, who in the world would question whether or not you could take pictures in a grocery store??) I digress…
Needless to say, I started what was supposed to be a glorious, fact-finding, picture-taking, foodie-indulging trip feeling seriously DISCOMBOBULATED. There is just no other word for how I felt.
And, there were people EVERYWHERE. It was early afternoon on a weekday, so I’m not sure why, but I get the impression this place is probably busy a lot. And I was completely overwhelmed by the store itself (as I’d never been in it before, except for a few quick trips with Andrew’s mom a year ago or something), not to mention that every employee who saw me with the camera accosted me, explaining the “no photography policy.” Which then required me to give my “I-just-moved-here-and-none-of-my-friends-back-home-know-what-a-Wegman’s-is-and-it’s-so-great-so-I-thought-I’d-take-a-few-photos-and-show-them-on-my-little-blog-and-I-ran-into-a-manager-on-the-way-in-and-he-said-it-was-OK” story. Whew. I’m breathless just typing it. I guess it is a testament to the service at Wegmans; the employees know their stuff and are lurking around every corner, ready to lend a hand, or grab your camera.
ANYWAY, to make an already bad situation worse, what shots I did get weren’t very good, and I was too flustered in the store to really take a look at what was going on. It turns out Andrew had changed some of the settings from the last time he used it and it was affected my shots. Fantastic.
So, for those who don’t know what a Wegmans is, it’s basically an upscale grocery store that has a “specialty” feel to it (yet you can still buy your toilet paper and cotton balls there as well), a food court-type area and is just overall pretty neat, at least to someone like me. I told everyone in Ohio that it was a combination of Dorothy Lane (small, upscale, specialty) and Kroger (everything else).
So, here’s what I have, with DETAILED descriptions:
Blurry photo number one… Covered shopping cart returns. Never seen this before, not even at the smaller Wegmans near our hotel. Makes sense I suppose, if you think about the weather here.
This is something I’ve been seeing a lot lately, and I’m sure it isn’t unique to Wegmans, or even New York. Grocery stores are finally catching on that people want fresh, local produce not just at the once-a-week farmer’s market, but EVERY day! (Support your local co-op!) I see signs all over the produce section with pictures of the actual farmers, their farm and the number of miles away they are.
I didn’t get any pictures of the indoor food court, but it’s a really snazzy set-up with all sorts of food stations: Chinese, sushi, subs, salads, soups, make-your-own-pasta bar, pizza, hot foods…the list goes on. Andrew’s family is a huge fan of the subs.
Wegmans has a GIANT produce section. Toward the front are all the local, super in-season fruits and veggies, with pre-packed items (like salads) on the sides. I must have counted six or seven different kinds of mushrooms in bulk bins. If you look to the left, you’ll see a woman in a white chef hat. She was grilling up some flatbread pizzas. YUM.
This was something I’d never really seen before. It was an entire station of pre-packaged, pre-cut-up veggies and greens. It was manned by a couple employees, so I think you could also have something packed-up to order. I’ve seen containers of cut-up veggies before, but nothing this nifty. (Not that I buy much pre-done…)
LOOK! It’s Dorothy Lane Market! Not sure what the connection between it and Wegmans is, but I thought it was neat. This is also one of the worst shots of the day…not sure why I didn’t figure out something was terribly wrong with the camera when it took three tries and none of the photos turned out. Again, I was discombobulated. To the max.
Many of the specialty stations had names in French. I realize it’s cutesy and the “look” Wegmans (and other upscale establishments) is looking for, but really? Although I suppose we are pretty close to Canada…but still. It’s just a bit silly.
Lots of baked goods…pretty much anything you want can be found here. This wasn’t even half the aisle… I have gotten their store-baked “Soft-Crusted Multigrain Bread” and I love it. Andrew’s not a huge fan, but I refuse to buy white bread, and since there are just two of us, I can’t be buying more than a loaf at a time… I prefer to make my own bread, but until we’re settled into a house, it’s not happening.
Doesn’t this just make you want to skip over the pre-packaged frozen meat section entirely? I thought it would. They also had quite a selection of pre-marinated meats, poultry, seafood…even pre-skewered meat and veggies for the grill.
The store sells Le Creuset…I’m in heaven.
About a bazillion different olives…my mouth is watering. It’s so sad Andrew doesn’t like olives; I rarely buy them since I have to eat them all myself.
Made-as-scratch-as-it-gets nut butters. I think I’ve died and gone to heaven. Remember, this is all IN ADDITION TO the wide variety of specialty brands found in their organic section (Like Maranatha, Sunbutter, Better’n Butter, etc…) and the general merchandise section, which has their store brand plus things like Smucker’s Natural (which is what I’ve always bought) and the regulars, like Jif and Peter Pan.
Bulk nuts and seeds. I’ve been waiting for this day… I LOVE BULK! I love being able to find those hard-to-locate ingredients and then get just enough for my recipe.
Bulk candy in general merchandise. I’m not a huge candy person, but I still find it handy to have the bulk bins for those lesser-known items, like Cinnamon Bears (right, Jen?).
I do have one sidebar story: as I was photographing the nut butters, a kind employee named Deborah struck up a conversation with me (after we went through the whole photography schpiel). When I told her how overwhelmed I was by everything, she offered me her store map. A store MAP?! Since when do grocery stores have maps? Well, Wegmans does and kind Deborah gave me the one out of her pocket. I was touched.
All in all, I love Wegmans, but am slightly disenchanted by how busy and overwhelming it was. I told Andrew I needed ANOTHER few hours, without a list, (and an extra $50!) to go around and just soak it all in, explore and find some never-before-sampled treasures to bring home. He said when we find our house, he’ll give me $100 to do just that.