Wegman's has infiltrated, and has an aggressive expansion plan, but right now is found in Northborough, MA only... about 10 miles from my place. This is not close enough to become my grocery store, and the finest minds on my board of directors had advised they would not go on opening weekend... or for several weekends. They also advised me not to watch The Ring alone. I don't always listen, but I had not yet been moved to visit Wegman's.
Now that I reduced my grocery buying to under 10 staple goods, that I can almost program a robot to select through a series of If/Then statements, I can't get interested in Event Shopping, such as that celebrated by Wegmans and its loyal shoppers.
This is not a review of Wegmans. I was not there long enough to form an opinion, other than "I can't breathe," and "where is the emergency stop on this ride?" It is a review of me in Wegmans.
Christmas shopping. Down to Dudley (I wasn't kidding about that), then to Christmas Trees Shops in Shrewsbury for something terribly clever to put my gifts in.
Don't you just... love a bargain?
Christmas Tree Shops (always in the plural, please, and with the invisible W) on the first weekend was certainly crowded, but fairly subdued. It does no good to get to CTS "early," because the inventory changes all the time. But people do get more desperate and territorial in the 2nd and 3rd weekends, so I needed to get in and out as efficiently as possible. I had no plan at all to go to Wegmans.
I blame the sign.
The Northborough Crossing is not on Rt 9. But the sign is.
Now that's just sneaky. Or brilliant.
With a low fuel warning dinging at me, I decided to give the Market to end all Markets a try. It was all about this lamb stew I was going to try in the crockpot, the belief that they would have a better selection than my local, and the sign said it was right over there....
I am no stranger to SUPER supermarkets, or precious shopping experiences. I lived through the 80s, remember - the polished stones under the raw fish at J. Bildners, the minimalist shelving of Units, the Mass Ave Bread & Circus. So I can tell you that we have seen Wegmans before. What it is doing differently is being every grocery store that ever turned a young urbanites head all in one building.
Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! All under One Big Top ~~ the greatest grocery gimmicks on earth!
Start with a Central Market as your shell. Standing empty, they look very much like a BJs or a Home Depot.
Devote one end to being Marche. Only, New Englanders will not move as slowly as Europeans do, so it needs to be a little more self-serve cafeteria-ish... like a Roche Brothers. Be sure to have plenty of bulk bins, like Whole Foods, and quirky boutique brands like Trader Joes. Note the bright yellow "We're just the local Green Grocer" signs that feel one smiley short of Wal-Mart, and "Club priced" meats for the folks who just journeyed across the parking lot from BJs. Lots of little samples everywhere are real crowd-pleasers, even Stop and Shop knows that.
Now: cram it full of people and make the aisles too small for carriages, like we are used to at CVS. Artificially shorten the distance from door to counter, like Dunkin Donuts does, and now you are really in a place where things are HAPPENING.
It really was a nice selection. It was just more than I wanted to pay. But of course, paying more than you want to is part of event grocery shopping. You work hard for the money, and why can't you have those savory cheese straws if you want them? That bread looks awesome. It's $5.99, but smell it! I was plowed between carts and jostled by couples, and overwhelmed by bread in 3 places 10 self-serve bars of one kind or another, and... really, it was a Christmas Tree aftershock, I think. In a 5 year old, we just call this a meltdown.
I lasted about 5 minutes. My car's exhaust system was still pinging and clanging when I returned to the safety of it
I'll take you there when you visit, just for something to do. We can marvel at why such a top-shelf grocery is the anchor of a shopping plaza that includes Dress Barn and Pay-Less, and how in the world it competes with BJs in the same complex. Let's go at 7am or after midnight, and not on a Saturday in December.
I found this picture while working on this post. It is not meant to be a concluding statement. I just love it.