retail news in context, analysis with attitude

There is a lovely piece in the New York Times about the new Wegmans store in Brooklyn … penned by Jesse Wegman, a member of the Times editorial board, who writes:

"I am not, alas, a Wegman Wegman. Or, more precisely, the Wegmans of Rochester, N.Y. — who founded the most beloved grocery chain in America, which opened its first New York City store, and its 101st store over all, in Brooklyn on Sunday — have yet to claim me. As far as I know, I am just a garden-variety Wegman."

Jesse Wegman concedes that he has had little personal experience with Wegmans stores to this point, though he has frequently encountered - because of his last name - the unbridled enthusiasm that so many people have for the brand.

"In the face of enthusiasm like this, the skeptical reporter in me is on high alert. But I will admit that the sheer size and positive energy inside the store was impressive, as were its alarmingly wide aisles. And it’s one of the company’s smaller operations.

So what explains this level of passion for a grocery store? Some of it is the natural loyalty that attaches to a family-owned business, which Wegmans has been for more than a century. Some of it is the fact that Wegmans predated the current trend of massive, well-stocked, high-quality supermarkets. But what struck me most in the end was not the range or quality of the food options — after all, I can find the same at Whole Foods or other similar modern emporiums, albeit for more money. It was the sense of community, of shopping for food as reaffirmation of a shared civic life in which everyone looks out for one another. This sense seems to exist between the owners and the staff (Wegmans consistently ranks as one of the best workplaces in the country), and between the staff and customers."

Excellent piece - Eye-Opening because it focuses on the connections that transformative retailing can forge with shoppers - and you can read it here.
KC's View: