You had me at Wegmans

The other day I was talking to a friend who told me that he had just learned that a high school classmate was returning to Buffalo after being away for many years. He said that the woman had decided that the time was right, and she began to formulate a plan to get her family onboard with the idea of relocating to a city that they had never visited before. After contemplating the proposition, they all agreed to visit Buffalo, in order to test the waters (which is usually half the battle).

When the family unit first came to Buffalo, all of the usual selling points were fashioned together in whirlwind visit, brimming with architectural outings, a visit to Niagara Falls, rides throughout the various historic neighborhoods, etc. But in the end, there was one amenity that turned out to be the game changer – Wegmans. Upon visiting the market, the sales pitch was over… and the group is now making their way across the country. Living in Western New York, I tend to take Wegmans for granted and am only occasionally reminded of its ability to awe people who have never encountered the business before.

So when my wife sent me a link to this BuzzFeed food/photo column (25 Reasons Wegmans Is The Greatest Supermarket The World Will Ever Know), I immediately thought back to the conversation that I had regarding the supermarket being the #1 selling point for the above-mentioned family to pick up and head to Buffalo. Often times we talk about the various quality of life draws that Buffalo has to offer – it’s nice to be reminded that a regional supermarket can make such a big impact on so many people who count it as one of our leading shopping assets.

 

About the author  ⁄ queenseyes

Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Catalyst behind the Pierce-Arrow Film Arts Center. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette. Themed New Years mayhem at various locations. Next up: Porchfest... Also offers package tours of the city for groups or individuals. Contact Newell Nussbaumer | Newell@BuffaloRising.com

39 comments
Buffalo_Resurrection
Buffalo_Resurrection

Well, the closest Wegmans to me is 35-45 minutes away but we do have a Budweys and, even though I would never even attempt to make a comparison, I will say Budweys has one of the best butchers I have encountered outside of an actual butcher shop which are far and few between anymore; I only know of two in Buffalo and I visit both when I am in the city (Before you bash me, I am not from Buffalo nor have I ever lived there so please don’t accuse me of white flight or abandoning the city).

ck dexter haven
ck dexter haven

Having a a market of the caliber of Wegman's in Buffalo (Amherst St) was absolutely essential in the final decision to move here this year.  It's the best large market chain I've come across in this country. Not perfect by a definite asset. From there I can touch other markets for my needs. I still miss the neighborhood meat/seafood counters I had access to in San Francisco as well as the Asian markets. 

zamedy
zamedy

I really can't say enough good things about the Amherst Street store. The customer service there blows any other supermarket I've ever shopped at out of the water. Many familiar, friendly faces who aim to please. Just the other day as I was waiting at the customer service desk to return something, the woman ahead of e asked if she could exchange a product that she had opened for the same product of a different flavor. She didn't even have her receipt but it didn't matter. Try doing that at Tops. They'd laugh you out of the store and trip you on your way out the door. I just love the atmosphere there... great vibe, many families but also lots of (attractive) young singles or couples living in the city like me who remind me that THERE ARE a lot of young, successful people living in this city. Too cramped in the front of the store? Yes. But 9.9 times out of 10 everyone's in a great mood (and it's GREAT for 'celebrity' sightings, too). The Wegmans IN Amherst definitely has a more 'pretentious' vibe too it, but the Amherst Street store.. not at all!

Now.. in a perfect world.. Wegmans (or Tops or Dash's) would put a downtown store in a renovated AM&A's store (after traffic has also been returned to that stretch of Main, of course).

Rand503
Rand503

Here in Washington, DC, Wegman's is a godsend.  Prior to their coming in to this market, we only had Safeway and Giant.  (There were a few very small specialty food stores).  They all sucked -- big time.  I lived in Bethesda for awhile, which is the top five places in the US for median income, and the store was dirty, the produce was second rate and their offerings were limited.  The place had literally not been changed since it was built in the 1950s.  

That was the best place to shop.  Then Wegman's came to the suburbs, and Whole Foods came to the city, and it forced Safeway and Giant to upscale their stores.  So they upscaled them to a middling level of bare acceptability.  Not much of an improvement.

I remember I was once at a cocktail party in the suburbs, and the subject came around to shopping.  I asked the woman if she had been to Wegman's yet, and ,she said no, and she hopes she doesn't go there.  I found that an odd remark and asked her why, and she said in all seriousness that she knew sevearl friends who went to Wegman's and stopped going to Safeway and Giant, and act as those it's a cult.  I said, well, yes, once you go, you'll see what a real supermarket should be, and you won't want to go back the hellish other ones.  So I told her it's best to wait until she feels she can handle it.

hockeyhips83
hockeyhips83

Meh. Wegmans can be expensive. I have been to better groceries around the country. And besides I would rather spend my monies supporting guercios (best produce) & other local home based product businesses where I can get their products at cost, not marked up 20%

Joel AltreKerber
Joel AltreKerber

No business, public or otherwise, can be all things to all people.

AndoreaPuis
AndoreaPuis

There was an interview with old man Wegman when he was alike. This was during the internet stock market boom when you could write xyz.com and get millions in a public offering. Mr. Wegman said that "Wegmans" could never exist as a public company. A board of directors and stockholders would never approve the spending on storefront (interiors and exteriors), the LPGA and Womens version of LPGA and experiments such as their restaurants ( which I think are only in Rochester haven't seen them in Buffalo), their shortlived noodle bar and coffee bar, etc. A public company demands the highest profits for the least capital aka TOPS.

That said, Wegmans is a lot like Rochester. Its all image. Its a Kodak moment and you pay for it.

I agree with everyone else that I have a few things that I go to Wegmans and then I pickup the necessities at whatever place I can get in and out the fastest and cheapest.

buffalorr
buffalorr

In LA the predominant supermarkets are Ralph's and Von's. You can buy the finest foods to be found anywhere in LA as long as you don't mind driving around an area of almost 500 sq. miles. There aren't really any chains that have the selection that Wegmans has under one roof.

The deli and seafood sections are comparable to none. When friends or relatives who've moved away from Buffalo return on visit's, myself included prior to returning a short time ago, Wegmans is a "must go to" destination. A pet peeve of mine though, is that you can buy the same apple pie at Tops for $5.99 whereas Wegmans pie is $12.99. Another is that I've never seen Mineo and Sapios Italian sausage there, you have to go to Tops for those. If you want a great niche supermarket, Traders Joes, which is a So. Cal. chain, wins the prize. Glad that one's about to open on NF Blvd. If I were asked to make a food store wish, it would be to have a Traders Joe's open on the ground floor level of the new Uniland Bldg's. parking ramp looking out on Elmwood Ave. My opinion only, but I think food shopping anywhere south of Amherst St. in the city is pretty limited which is a turn off to people relocating to Buffalo.

batmankh
batmankh

I've been on the road for over a week in Philadelphia and stumbled upon a Wegmans in Cherry Hill. Best lunch ever. Homesickness cured.

BuffaloRox
BuffaloRox

While I used to shop extensively at Wegmans' Amherst st store, I find myself doing so less and less.  Yes, they are certainly busy but that doesn't mean that they have it all figured out.  They have lots of room for improvement.  That's why places like Dashs', Lexington Co-op and smaller independent markets continue to thrive.  I like many of Wegmans private label brands and their cheese and prepared foods.  However, I think the quality and price of meat and service at Dashs' and Johnny's is far better.  As far as pantry items (cereal and canned goods) and fruits and veggies, I find prices at Price Rite are better.  Wegmans is good for convenience of having it all under one roof or if you want to buy prepared food. 

laldm109
laldm109

Wegman's is nice, but for the 100,000+ people (including me) that live close to downtown in the city itself, it's pretty hard to get to the Amherst Street store for everyday shopping needs. Besides, who wants to navigate a giant parking lot and suburban layout anyway? I go there occasionally, and when I do, I enjoy it. Good food, good prices, friendly cashiers.

But until Wegmans gets past their suburban bias and starts building more urban markets in walkable neighborhoods, their potential market share is limited. As inner Buffalo becomes wealthier (housing prices in the historic neighborhoods are way up just this year), this will be more and more the case. Even Tops understands this - for example, they have a small urban "test" store on Seneca Street in South Buffalo and are making noise about building a store downtown in the next couple years...

Oregon
Oregon

How cool would it be if Trader Joe's opened inside a Wegmans.  That would should some serious authenticity.  


OldFirstWard
OldFirstWard

I love Wegmans too but...

1. Their cake prices are ridiculous and the cakes have gotten smaller.

2. Packaged beef is way too overpriced.

3. They over bake the breads.  Too dark 

4. The subs are good but messy and nobody beats a Costanzo's sub roll. 

5. Flowers are sometimes double what Tops charges.

Overall, they have the best prices and hands down fast, friendly service.  Except for the snooty and snobby North Buffalo Amherst St. store.

Matt Ricchiazzi
Matt Ricchiazzi

I really wish Wegmans would develop urban "markets". Imagine the store without the endless aisles of boxed food and canned goods. Imagine an urban styled store with just the footprint that includes the produce, delicatessens, bakery, meats, etc, without the massive parking lot. It could be a real anchor in pedestrian oriented commercial districts.

ninohuong
ninohuong

@ck dexter haven hey, there are plenty of asian markets around.  west side, amherst etc....  some are not in the greatest of neighborhoods but I have shopped at a lot of them and find the purveyors friendly and helpful even when they don't speak english well.  They are very eager to help.  Good customer service = repeat business.  buffalo is more spread out then SF and we don't have a lot of the conveniences lumped together in one overpriced location (see: elmwood village: antiques, bakeries).  elmwood is starting to become exactly what it didn't want to be 15 years ago but I digress. Hertel ave has middle eastern and arabic markets as well.  sparr's on amherst has great sausage.  hayes fish (in Clarence) has great fish.  I get it....we have to drive a bit but we are not NYC, SF etc...


Welcome aboard!

537MainSandra
537MainSandra

@zamedy I almost completely agree with you. I love Wegmans, think that the customer service is amazing at ALL of them that I have been to, and every time I walk by the old AM&A's I envision, okay, long for a Wegmans to occupy that space. The Amherst Street store is what we now refer to as "our Wegmans" and it is most excellent.  I do not, however, find anything pretentious about the Alberta Wegmans.   Living on Grand Island, the Niagara Falls Wegmans was my "local" and the Alberta Wegmans was my favorite.  I found it bigger and better than NF - but I never got the pretentious vibe. 

All of that being said...what can be done to get a Wegmans in that AM&A's? :)

AndoreaPuis
AndoreaPuis

@zamedy 

I have to agree that a small grocery store would be great downtown. Tops used to have B-KWIK. Its been ages since Ive seen one of those stores.

Downtown doesn't really have a convenience store of any kind. Now I can understand if business studies say our downtown isn't populated enough to support a large walmart or target etc. But a small budget Price-Rite or Dash's should be more than viable.

greenca
greenca

@hockeyhips83

Yes, I'm sure Guercios and other local home based product businesses are selling their products at cost.  No markup whatsoever  Hmmm, I wonder how they cover their overhead if there is no markup?  

OldFirstWard
OldFirstWard

@laldm109 

It is pretty obvious that Wegmans target customer is the middle class, working and affluent shoppers.  They do not want their stores to become inundated with riff-raff and pajama wearing clientele.  That is for Tops.  Unfortunately, that is what you get by locating in the inner city, white or black.  They want shoppers who predominantly drive to their locations.

You may not like how it sounds but it is the paradox of retail.  

Oregon
Oregon

@laldm109 Those are good points. You really seem to grasp it.

It also explains why the store is always completely packed and from a profitability and transaction side, blows away any other supermarket in the city,  That just don't seem to get it.  Maybe its just their hubris and inability to understand their customers needs that blinds them resulting in a store that is always constantly crowded and profitable.


Dan Blather
Dan Blather

Serious authenticity would be an East Side-style deli (FULL LINE OF GROC LOTTO CRICKET CIGS BEER HUMAN HAIR EXTENSIONS WESTERN UNION) opening inside a Budwey's.

sbrof
sbrof

@OldFirstWard have you ever been to a Wegmans in Amherst... That is snob-city

RickHamm
RickHamm

@OldFirstWard I've never had a problem with the Amherst St. store and I've never heard of anyone who has. What do you mean by snooty?

Dan Blather
Dan Blather

@matthew ricchiazzi >I really wish Wegmans would develop urban "markets".

Wegmans sees Upstate NY and the smaller PA cities (Scranton, Williamsport, Erie, etc) as a "legacy market"; they're not abandoning it, but they're not going to expand in the region either.  They're directing all of their energy towards new locations in affluent suburbs throughout the Northeast Corridor -- Boston through Washington.

Dream all you want about small format stores, new stores in downtown Buffalo and Rochester, and the like, but Weggies has moved on from its Rust Belt roots.  Be glad Buffalo has Weggies at all, because if Danny had to do it over again, you'd be doing all of your grocery shopping at Tops and Giant Eagle.

AndoreaPuis
AndoreaPuis

@greenca @lafayette1985 

I don't think it really matters whether its Main Place Mall or DL&W or AM&As or a reconfigured Convention Center or a new building.

I don't think it matters whether its a Wegmans or a Tops or a Price Rite.

The important thing is that some sort of supermarket come downtown so that downtown can be as convenient as the inner city neighborhoods and suburbs.

If anyone has been to the Galleria in North Dallas then there is a design lesson to it. Its a downtown multi-story mall but it has office and residential towers. People just take the elevator and get off at the mall. It has a built in customer base. If Liberty and Main Place Mall and AM&As and Statler all went residential then that would be a built in customer base for a supermarket.

Was just thinking of Texas Ribs while reading this...and 1+1+1...thought Id share

hockeyhips83
hockeyhips83

@537MainSandra @zamedy As much as a wegman's would be nice in Downtown Buffalo, would it receive enough visitors to successfully remain open? maybe a scaled back version of the grocery could be implemented but I do not believe a full scale store would be very successful.  

Sure business lunches would bring in quite a bit of money, but what about evenings and weekends?  If wegman's thought it would have been a economically feasible project why haven't they done it already???  

If ANYTHING, they should have Satellite lunch locations, with their lunch bars and sub shops. 

buffalorr
buffalorr

537MainSandra-I agree with you, what is it that would make the Alberta Drive Wegmans any different from the others in WNY? It's a bustling place to go to that I wish could be found in more parts of the city. The Alberta Drive store even has a shuttle bus going to the two UB campus's which brings in a lot of students. It's fun watching and talking to these kids when they're shopping, many of who are on their own for the first time in their lives. There is live music with local musicians playing on different days of the week in the food bar section that's also broadcast out to the parking lot. I love the ladies at the Kosher section of the deli where you can get chicken fat and smoked white fish, gefilte fish and matzo balls. They always give me advice on how to prepare food just like your Grandmother used to make. I think anytime you go intp a store, it's what you make of it. Don't wait for anyone else to set the mood for you.

greenca
greenca

@537MainSandra @zamedy 

The reality is that Wegmans will most likely never open a full-service supermarket in downtown Buffalo.  Their business strategy is focusing on growing, wealthy areas (urban or suburban).  Look at their website and notice where their out of state stores are located.  While downtown Buffalo is making a comeback, it it no where on par with these areas in terms of median income and growth potential.

hockeyhips83
hockeyhips83

@AndoreaPuis @zamedy Bkwik was bought out by a private owner which is now dash's.  

There CERTAINLY ARE convenient (https://maps.google.com/maps?q=convenience+store&hl=en&sll=42.885477,-78.873188&sspn=0.012767,0.033023&t=h&hq=convenience+store&z=16)
and grocery stores downtown! (
https://maps.google.com/maps?q=grocery+stores&hl=en&ll=42.887851,-78.872867&spn=0.012766,0.033023&sll=42.885477,-78.873188&sspn=0.012767,0.033023&oq=grocery&t=h&hq=grocery+stores&z=16) 


christ the washington street market is great. a little overpriced but you're paying for the convenience of it.

hockeyhips83
hockeyhips83

@greenca @hockeyhips83 You're right, I would much rather go to wegman's where I can spend $6 on a package of Queen City pasta than go to the manufacturing source where they have a shop and purchase a package for $2.50.  

brownteeth
brownteeth

@OldFirstWard I've never had any issues with snobby people at Amherst Street or any Wegmans location?  At least the parking lot at Amherst Street is almost always 85-90% filled as opposed to other locations that are far less occupied.

micahh64
micahh64

@OldFirstWard

 "They do not want their stores to become inundated with riff-raff and pajama wearing clientele.  That is for Tops.  Unfortunately, that is what you get by locating in the inner city, white or black."

But, remember kids:

"There is no class warfare being waged in this country.  And, if it is, it's being waged on the rich by the poor/middle class."

.

JasonHaremza
JasonHaremza

@Dan Blather @matthew ricchiazzi I agree.  Danny Wegman gushed about the possibility of new urban format stores in downtown Boston a few months ago, but they don't view the tentative urban renaissance in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, etc. the same way.  The City of Rochester tried to get them to build a more appropriately urban store at their sole location within the city, and it was like pulling teeth.  As it stands, the entrances they were supposed to have directly off the public sidewalk are now "emergency exits only" that are alarmed.

jag2
jag2

 @buffaloued Wegmans is likely going to anchor a new massive project in DC - Walter Reed (which no, won't look suburban - that doesn't fly in DC). I'm entirely sure Wegmans will begin focusing more and more on urbanized locations, a la Walmart, Target, Whole Foods, etc. Adapt and grow or stay singularly, laughably suburban and die. Accept it for what it is.  

brownteeth
brownteeth

@hockeyhips83 @brownteeth @537MainSandra @zamedy Sure Top's has everything you need... technically.  They could start by providing a cleaner store, better customer service and better products.  I've had this debate with others here before but I feel like they only sell the products they think the immediate neighborhood can afford leaving out the growing pockets of residences that want better quality fresh food options and are willing to pay for it.  I also think they mark their prices up on typically cheaper products because many folks use food stamps there and don't have other shopping options. 

hockeyhips83
hockeyhips83

@brownteeth @hockeyhips83 @537MainSandra @zamedy step up their game? what do they need to step up? they provide everything that anyone living in close proximity to it would require.  I live on the west side and frequent geurcios and sometimes tops more than I ever go to wegmans.   

doubtful a wegmans would survive in center city, it takes more than 9-5'ers to keep a business open, realistically it would only benefit from 11-4'ers.   

mornings would be owned by the cafes downtown and evenings by the restaurants, and of the small percentage of people who live downtown, they'll continue to shop at tops or price rite because it's more inexpensive and those who want the best quality will continue to shop at  premiere. 

brownteeth
brownteeth

@hockeyhips83 @537MainSandra @zamedy Perhaps the 9-5 work crowd would do their shopping right after work and then head home adding to the growing residences?  I would be happy if Tops on Niagara stepped up their game a bit.  After all its already close to downtown.

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