SmartShopper

Why Wegmans matters to our community

With the Wegmans grocery store grand opening behind us, there is something I feel compelled to say and I hope you take this in the best possible way. Some of you have voiced your discontent with the level of attention given to this store opening. A number of you have called out other readers for expressing their love of Wegmans and especially for waiting in line at the opening. This statement addresses my thoughts on why this store opening was newsworthy and responds to the less-than-kind comments.

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Wegmans tailgators at the new Raleigh, NC store on 9/29/19 at 5 am

With the grand opening of the Wegmans grocery store in Raleigh, NC behind us, there is something I feel compelled to say and I hope you take this in the best possible way.

Some of you have voiced your discontent on the WRAL Smart Shopper Facebook page regarding the level of attention we have given to this store opening. A number of you have called out other readers for expressing their love of Wegmans and especially for waiting in line at the grand opening.

The following statement addresses my thoughts on why this store opening was newsworthy and responds to the less-than-kind comments.

Why This Store is Newsworthy

When a new grocery store of this magintude opens their first location EVER in the whole state of North Carolina, it is newsworthy.

When the crowds end up being bigger than any grocery store opening in recent history in the Raleigh area, it is newsworthy.

When said grocery store offers a variety and experience like NO OTHER grocery store you have ever seen in this state, it is newsworthy.

When this grocery store carries hundreds of products from North Carolina produce and cattle farms, breweries, wineries and many other local food manufacturers, supporting our local community, it is newsworthy.

When a new store creates jobs for 475 employees (mostly local), it is newsworthy.

When a new grocery store offers excellent everyday low prices on milk, eggs, bread, grapes, apples, broccoli, chicken breast, 80% ground beef, yogurt, ice cream, canned veggies and so much more, it is newsworthy. In fact, for many products, they beat the prices of the other traditional grocery stores, big box stores AND warehouse clubs. This store is an amazing combination of all the types of food stores for every budget, and I am truly impressed.

When a store partners with the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina to help our neighbors in need with truckloads of donations and regular deliveries, it is newsworthy.

When a new grocery store to our area has won numerous national awards year after year because of the way they treat their employees and they way they treat their customers, it ups the bar for all the other stores and it is newsworthy.

When increased competition in an area will likely result in lower prices at stores near this new store, many more people will benefit, as one of our readers, Rose, pointed out. That is indeed newsworthy.

I am not being paid by Wegmans to say these things, as some of you implied. They did not give me any free products or freebies to get me to write about this store. They simply gave me a tour and answered my many questions.

Honestly, I actually expected to find much higher prices and I am pleasantly surprised. After seeing the store and speaking with the manager and employees, I now understand the hype and the excitement.

Yes, there are some high priced products, like the giant $1800 bottle of fine wine. Clearly, that is not going to be on my grocery list. And there are many pre-made meals and sides that would be cheaper to make at home from scratch. That’s the case at every grocery store. But the selection and variety of options for all kinds of staple items and specialty diets is mind-boggling. And do not get me started on the phenomenal food court and hot and cold food bars.

This grocery store is different than any grocery store you have ever seen. It is an experience. And honestly, you just need to see it in person to understand what I am talking about.

What This Store Means to Long-Time Wegmans Shoppers

For many people who were tailgating starting at 10 pm last night, this store opening is a lifeline to "home." It allows them to buy the comfort foods they grew up with and miss every day. And for these folks, that is important. Multiple people commented on the Facebook page that they cried when they saw my sneak peek video inside the store on Friday. Many folks I met at the grand opening worked at Wegmans as their first job and a number received scholarships to go to college from Wegmans. One shopper, who was there with her teenage son, said that Wegmans was her first job many years ago and when the store in Holly Springs opens, she wants that to be her last job.

I realize that many of you do not understand this obsession with Wegmans and you probably never will. And that's ok. But just because you can’t possibly fathom why someone would wait for 9 hours outside a grocery store before it opened, it's sad that you thought it was acceptable to make fun of them, call them unkind names and ridicule how they want to spend their time.

I imagine that many of you would be willing to wait in line for something you deem important that some of the Wegmans fans would have no part of.

That is the amazing thing about our state and our country, the one we all share. We all have different interests and likes and dislikes. And as long as we aren’t hurting each other, then why in the world would you care what others find gratifying?

The folks who were out there in line for hours on opening day got to know each other, made new friends, reminisced about shared experiences and places they lived and had a great time. When I arrived at 5:15 am, they were all smiles and incredibly excited about the store opening.

It was a lot like tailgating for a sports event with food and camping chairs and even Wegmans "team" t-shirts that they had made for the opening. But nobody is out there giving sports fanatics grief for cheering on a bunch of overpaid athletes running around a field for a few hours. Yet, when a group of folks come together to celebrate a wonderful addition to our community that will help them and their neighbors live more comfortably within their means with these great prices, some of you felt they were fair game for harassment.

That’s simply not right.

We are divided enough as a country these days and this sort of judgment of people because they are excited about experiencing a place that brings them joy is uncalled for.

Many of us reading this post are likely North Carolinians and most of us are Americans and all of us share this planet. I would venture to guess that we have more in common than not.

A little grace and a lot less judgment would go a long way to mending what ails this country as a whole.

And on my blog, I would prefer to see more of that grace and a little more understanding that just because something may not be your thing, that it’s just fine if it happens to bring joy to another.

Thank you for indulging me in this rather long response to some of the comments I have read today. For those of you who were kind and considerate to your fellow North Carolina shoppers who chose to venture out for this fun opening (even if it was not your thing), I sincerely thank you.

Have a wonderful rest of your day. After the fantastic sushi and cannoli my daughter and I had for lunch from Wegmans, I am a happy girl.

As I always say, it’s your money, spend it wisely!

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