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First Wegmans Food Markets in the state taking shape in Raleigh

Family owned Wegmans, based in Rochester, New York, is expanding south and is poised to present stiff competition in the Raleigh grocery market place

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Rick Armstrong, WRAL multimedia journalist,
Jeff Hogan, WRAL anchor/reporter
RALEIGH, N.C. — Foodies eagerly await a new grocery experience in Raleigh. The family-owned, Rochester, New York, based Wegmans Food Markets is expanding south into the Triangle.

The first of four planned stores is well underway off Wake Forest Road near Interstate 440. It's slated to open for business this fall.

"I've been told that this is basically the amusement park of grocery stores," said WRAL's Smart Shopper Faye Prosser. She said the 120,000-square-foot store could introduce stiff competition to the local grocery scene.

For shoppers who scan the newspapers for special grocery product sales, Wegmans may disappoint. Raleigh Wegmans' store manager Hallie Johnston said the store has a different pricing philosophy.

"We like to be very simple and approachable so what we offer is consistent low pricing," she said.

She said the store doesn't want customers having to wait for a bargain. "This is very competitive pricing, particularly on family items that people buy most: milk, bread and eggs," said Johnston.

Hallie Johnston is currently interviewing local workers who are "excited to make people smile and bring excitement and joy to the work day."

Wegmans does honor double coupons, especially with store brand items.

"That's going to be a very good quality item — equal to if not better compared to a national brand," Johnston said.

Online, Wegmans advertises "temporary price reductions," where Prosser sees great buys.

"For instance, boneless skinless chicken breast, $1.69 a pound. A 16-ounce box of elbow macaroni, only 59 cents. Even ground beef for $1.99 per pound. So those are all very competitive," Prosser said.

WRAL Smart Shopper Faye Prosser says Wegmans is poised to present stiff competition within the Raleigh grocery scene

Chasing bargains is one approach to store loyalty, but Wegmans' attraction seems to go beyond bargains. Those familiar with the store in other markets say it attracts people who are curious about their "foodie" reputation.

One of Prosser's social media followers wrote about the size of the store and variety of products offered. She wrote, "Think Harris Teeter, plus Whole Foods, plus a Hallmark Gift Card shop, plus your favorite deli, plus Total Wine all in one store."

Wegmans executive chef Rob Santiago said, "I think as soon as you walk in the store, you're hit with an experience of food and a really amazing culture of people who are passionate about food."

Although some think of Wegmans as a high-end store, Santiago says it's really designed for the family, especially in the store's restaurants.

"Amazing burgers, sandwiches, salads. Very kid-friendly," said Santiago.

He said the store is also a place for culinary education as many customers aren't familiar with certain fish or vegetables and don't know how to prepare them.

"Teaching and educating people of what to do with a product and how to handle and it and how to feed your family — ultimately, it's what we're responsible for," Santiago said.

Prosser said that Wegmans' reputation among shoppers and employees has long ranked among the best in the country.

"They are not only ranked high for customer service, but they're also ranked very high by employees," she said

Wegmans Food Markets is currently hiring employees in the Raleigh area. Johnston expects the full staff to reach to 475 employees.

Two Wegmans are planned for Cary, and one is coming to Chapel Hill.

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Jeff Hogan, Reporter
Rick Armstrong, Photographer
Rick Armstrong, Producer
Deborah Strange, Web Editor

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