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Wegman's??

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I need me some help, people.

I just moved down from Boston to Washington, DC and have been disappointed with the grocery stores in this area. Good produce is hard to find. Good prices are even harder. I'm used to shopping at Trader Joe's and Shaw's and sometimes Whole Foods, but the only stores in the district proper are Giant and Safeway, both not spectacular.

A friend mentioned that Wegman's was a decent alternative. I've never been, but was wondering how it compared to Whole Foods or Trader Joe's or Shaw's. And what are the good items..and the ones I should stay far, farrrr away from?

Thanks in advance!!

Taylor

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  1. I moved away from the DC metro area 2 1/2 years ago and Wegman's is the one thing I truly miss. I would absolutely love for them to come out west. Their house brand is very good, I was never disappointed and their produce among the best I've seen at grocery stores. They carry local produce frequently and lots of organic and unusual choices. Their meat is quite good as well. Prices are competitive for the most part. It's kind of like a Whole Foods combined with a regular grocery store.

    1. OMG!! Wegmans absolutely saved my life here in the boondocks. I go there EVERY day. Their prepared foods section is great, the seafood counter fantastic, the meat counter... the cheese. Oh boy.
      They have creme fraiche. Greek yogurt (though only the low fat kind unfortunately. They have an international section with all kinds of ethnic groceries. They have a large selection of Lindt chocolates, and even a few of the Vosges bars...

      I agree it can get pricey if you buy a lot of the prepared stuff, but staples aren't any more expensive than at any other supermarket. Well, except for Mallwart, maybe.

      I can spend anywhere between $15 and $60 in one shopping trip, simply depending on what I get. They have S. Pellegrino, which I am addicted to. Go there and find your own favorites! As a hound, I think you're really going to like it.

      1. Wegman's is an all around great supermarket. I love shopping there. Very fresh produce, excellent meats, great cheese selection, good international foods section. I don't buy paper products there, but for everything else it's a great place to shop for the things I mentioned.

        1 Reply
        1. re: SarahEats

          Wegman's is the best. It is like a Whole Foods and Trader Joe's mixed with a regular grocery. They have everything a standard grocery would have at reasonable prices, plus the hard to find produce and organic items. They have prime meats and an awesome prepared foods section. I just wish they would hurry up and open in AA County.

        2. Wegmans is the BEST grocery store in the country. I discovered them years ago when I used to holiday in upstate New York. Oh, what I wouldn't do for a Wegmans by me here in the midwest.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Gelato_in_Roma

            Ditto that! We make visiting a Wegmann's part of our vacation when we visit family in Syracuse. If only we could get one down south!! By far the best grocery store I have ever shopped.

          2. Great -- thanks everyone! Looks like I have to Wegman's a try. :)

            1 Reply
            1. re: taylor_blair

              BTW, contrary to your OP, there are two WF's in DC proper, on P street and on Wisconsin Ave. But Wegmans is the place to go. As others have posted above, it actually is certifiably the best supermarket chain in the US. Far better than WF or TJ IMHO, because it actually is a full-line supermarket in addition to all the other stuff they have. It will blow your mind if you've never been in a store like it.

              You should also check out the Asian markets. There are several chains around (Lotte, Grand Mart, Han Ah Rhum now converting to H Mart I believe), but most of all Super H. If you're looking for produce, Super H is the place to go.

              BTW, you'll find the Safeways and even the Giants in the 'Burbs far superior to anything in DC itself. Shoppers Food Warehouse is also worth a look, as is Harris Teeter which is a very fine store, second only to Wegmans perhaps. I believe there is an HT going into the Columbia Road/18th St. area, but I've been away from DC for a while and can't recall for sure.

            2. I must be missing something. The one time we stopped into Wegmans on the way somewhere we found it useful enough (we ate lunch from the prepared foods area) but did not find anything that made it like a Whole Foods combined with a regular grocery store as some claim.

              Perhaps I am spoiled here with decent enough Giant Eagle stores? The most current of the Giant Eagle format (not counting the two Market District stores, which again I didn't find that much more worth it though they did have a LOT of cheese) do seem to be better than some of the various stores I've been to in other areas. But everything seems to have its plusses and minuses, and I couldn't see what Wegmans had over what is "normal" to me. It does seem like it's a good enough outfit to be sure. So if everything else has been mediocre in the area, I'm sure they are worth a try.

              (And despite apparently having it pretty good with the large grocery plus a couple of small local places we're trying to shop at more often, we still go slightly out of the way occasionally to Trader Joe's where we continue to stock up on stuff that appears to have no equal elsewhere. We haven't been to Whole Foods in months, and a few of the things we get at TJ's are just cheaper there rather than unique, but several other things we buy repeatedly at least appear to be unique compared to what we've seen in other places.)

              6 Replies
              1. re: CrazyOne

                That's a surprising reaction. I think, yes, you must have been missing something. Which Wegmans were you in? Some of the older stores, particularly in upstate NY, aren't much special, but it's hard to understand your reaction if you were in one of the newer 135,000 sq. ft. stores for example in the DC or Philly area.

                Not being a "Pittsburghian" I'm not personally acquainted with Giant Eagle (Iggle), but to bolster the case of those like me who think Wegmans is the best, there was recently a Consumers Report rating of 54 grocery chains all over the US, in which Wegmans was the top rated (tied with TJ, but see below), while Giant Eagle placed 28th, tied with several others including Safeway, Sam's Club, Meijer, Piggly Wiggly, Giant of PA, and others, and interestingly a notch below IGA of all things. Take it FWIW. Here's a link, but it may not work unless you're a paid CR subscriber:

                http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/mo...

                WF came in fifth by the way, also behind Publix (Florida) and Raley's (California). The CR ratings were based on several criteria but not including selection, and on that criterion Wegmans and TJ are not even in the same universe.

                To tie up one loose end from the OP, Shaw's was ranked by CR close to the bottom.

                1. re: johnb

                  I'm open to the idea that I'm missing something. :-) If CR is any indication it's not because Giant Iggle is so great. Wegmans definitely had a far greater prepared food section, which is where we spent most of our time. But it wasn't enough better to make me wish I had it close. The only one that's ever done that for me is Whole Foods.

                  The location was Wilkes-Barre, PA. We stopped in sometime in November or early December last year. The store from the outside seemed old, and the seating area seemed old, but I've never been sure whether to judge that or not. I didn't know if they typically built new buildings or typically took over empty stuff. I figured they might have converted some older building.

                  The CR link is subscriber-only. Clearly TJ would not measure up to anything in selection, but it is interesting that by some other measures they have put it way up at the top. A few people could probably do their entire grocery shopping there, but it would be tricky. But this is no longer a measure I care about in stores. I don't need one store where I can get everything. Can't imagine what that would be, anyway. Certainly in some places or circumstances one might settle for a certain store for most everything. I've been to Publix a few times and never thought that was particularly fantastic either compared to other places I'd been. I dunno everyone's criteria, but I'm sure some of these don't come out unless you're shopping there regularly for your stuff for home. I've only seen these when visiting away from home.

                  BTW, how can you rank IGA, which varies so widely in what might be offered from store to store? Weird. :-) Another reason to wonder a bit about CR, which I used to check regularly but don't always anymore. Things like this seem subjective. In the stores I tend to know what I like when I see it, and I didn't think I saw that special it in Wegmans, but hey, I was there once very briefly. The likelihood I get to experience it properly is about nil, though, because Wegmans is closer enough to a standard supermarket that I can't imagine they're eyeing this area where the aforementioned Iggle has made quite the fortress. The only thing that makes much of a dent is cheaper (Wal-Mart, etc.) or closer location (fewer and fewer spots but that's how the Shop N Saves and Foodlands survive because it sure isn't the quality of their stores) or a special niche underserved by Iggle (Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, maybe Costco goes here).

                  1. re: CrazyOne

                    You have to bear in mind that local management has much to do with things like produce quality and freshness. While I do like Wegman's overall, the produce at their location in Bridgewater, NJ is sometimes ready for the trash bin. While this is not consistent, there have been multiple occasions when I had to change my intended vegetable side dishes at the last minute, simply because what Wegman's had available was...let's just say...well past its prime.

                    By contrast, the Whole Foods that I patronize (Princeton, NJ) is an exemplar of incredibly fresh produce. Yes, I have read rants on this site from those who hate Whole Foods, but this one has incredible produce--and theirs is as good as the stuff at Wegman's is bad.

                    So, as I said, much depends on who is managing your local Wegman's, or your local Whole Foods, for that matter.

                    1. re: Ted in Central NJ

                      That's interesting since the only place I've ever bought moldy produce was at a Whole Foods. It was raspberries in a clamshell package so I couldn't see the mold.

                      I agree, location has a lot to do with it and I guess it depends on your method of planning as well because I never shop for specific veggie sides, I go to the store with a few ideas and look at what looks good in the store.

                      1. re: Ted in Central NJ

                        I like Bridgewater Wegmans! The Management is very responsive, quickly following up email complaints and questions- twice in my case. I do 99% of my supermarket shopping there, and I've never seen produce "ready for the trash bin." Maybe you mean the locally grown stuff, but then that's a whole different thing...

                      2. re: CrazyOne

                        Alright, so we got out of work early on Wednesday and made our way towards Boston stopping for the night near the very same Wilkes-Barre Wegman's that I was in before. It was late, 10pm, on the eve of Thanksgiving, so not much going on except a few people getting their supplies after the big rush (or before the morning one, as they were to be open until 3pm on Thanksgiving). All of the hot food area was closed. But this was good, because we wandered through more of the store, and we weren't heading back out to the road but instead just over to our room at the nearby Hilton Garden Inn.

                        Anyway, much more impressed this time. :-) Interesting bakery items, nice natural food section. I'm sure if there were one nearby we would shop there, but I'm still not sure it's worth going too far out of the way for. The closest one to us is in Erie, I believe, some 90 miles or so away from the house. Heh. So I don't really get the cult-like following yet, whereas with my first experience in Trader Joe's I was ready to join the cult immediately. So I dunno. ;-) But while still spending just a fairly short time in there, I'll grant that it's a huge store which must have a wide variety of good stuff (of which I've seen very little) else they wouldn't waste so much space on it. Oh, another nice touch: a good sized cooler of milk, eggs, etc. right next to the checkout, instead of making you go to the farthest corner from the entrance. Although there was also a dubious freezer up front with a sign reading "Holiday Essentials" on it. The contents: multiple shelves of frozen pumpkin pie and Cool Whip! Well, everything can't be perfect I guess. ;-)

                  2. Wegmans is consistently considered by most in the supermarket industry to be the best operators in the United States. From my experiences when sentenced to spending a couple months in Erie, PA, I would concur.

                    First, their prepared food is generally excellent. Their deli is far better than the competitors and they have a wide variety of deli selections. Their fresh baked in store breads are the best that I have purchased in a supermarket.

                    In general, Wegman comes up with an idea and others follow. That is what makes it very difficult to tell you what is so different about them.

                    However, as I always say, don't believe me, go check it out. After all, I do not believe that they charge admission at this point.

                    1. we've been blessed here in s jersey with 2 wegmans locations...in mt laurel and cherry hill. one area not touched on in all the prev posts is their selection of teas. it's outstanding. large sealed tins of many types of tea, you buy the amount you want. it's an amazingly good way to try various types you might not be familiar with without having to fork out the prices the better tea companies charge for prepackaged stuff and it's not off brand...actually some numi and rishi product among the offerings.
                      i got 5 different types to try and was very satisfied. nothing was stale, crushed or broken into dust.
                      on the negative side, wegmans coffees are mediocre. they'd do much better bringing in peets or some other company. they do have a small selection of green mountain and newmans own, but it's really not much in the way of choices.
                      still, bottom line without a doubt is VIVA WEGMANS!!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: spinach

                        Yes, they have an absolutely amazing selection of teas! We can find our favorite tea there, "Barry's Tea" from Ireland.

                        My husband and I were just at our nearest Wegmans today - which is 1-1/2 hours away in Cherry Hill, NJ. That's okay - we bring the cooler for the cold items and then proceed to fill the car. Good thing I have a large pantry!

                        I find items in Wegmans that are very difficult to find (if not impossible) to find in other markets. They sell the British McVitie's "Hob Nobs" milk chocolate digestive cookies. They are like an oatmeal cookie with a chocolate icing - I can only find them at Wegmans.

                        Also, their freshly baked breads are INCREDIBLE. Like breads from a true European bakery.

                      2. I like Wegman's a lot, but live 45 min from a couple of locations so only go once in a while. I've been to the Downingtown, State College, and Allentown locations and found them to be virtually identical. There is rumor of a location going in Reading in the next couple of years.

                        Excellent: Prepared food bar, bakery, olive bar, cheese, and ethnic section - all way better than any other grocery store.

                        Good: Wegman's store brand is one of the better "generics" I've had. The produce is pretty good with a nice variety. The candy and nut by the pound is nice, but not something I need in a grocery store. The organics are pretty good as well.

                        Mediocre: The regular grocery section seems run of the mill, if not kinda small and overwhelmed by the hoopla of the fresh stuff and bakery. It's not really any better than Giant or Redners.

                        Poor: The meat/butcher section in the D-town store where I go most often is not that great. It's rather small and didn't have much variety. So far, I've gone there looking for brisket, pork butt, and uncooked ham only to have them tell me they are out or what they had was not great.

                        Verdict: If I had one close by, I'd probably do my primary shopping there, but the produce and meat are not good enough to make it a one stop shop. This is particularly true in my area where there are a number of family owned "farm markets" (Shady Maple and Yoders), and farmer's markets that are way better.

                        1. Wegmans' olive/mediterranean bar is spectacular.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Bob W

                            I think Wegman's is okay but I wouldn't do it for my regular grocery shopping. True I think their produce is good. Their meats and fish are good also but anything behind glass is super super expensive. Their prepared foods are expensive and disappointing. The regular part of the store leaves a lot of name brands out. Theere are a lot of Wgman's brands, like Wegman's pasta, Wegman's paper towels, Wegman's Ice cReam, but when I looked for my favorite tomato sauce they did not have this and it is commonly sold in any Shoprite or Foodtown. Their bakery is excellent as is their cheeses so if you are going to have a party, that is the place to go but unless you have a lot of money I think there are better grocers.

                            1. re: shesallthat

                              It's true that the meats etc. "behind glass" at Wegmans are expensive, but that's because they are higher quality. They have plenty of plastic wrapped foam tray stuff in the open cases that is competitively priced, and probably still better quality than most stores.

                              I'm wondering what popular brands you didn't find there. There are probably dozens of brands of tomato sauce and no store can carry them all, but to my recollection they carry most of the major brands. I always found Wegmans store brands to be of equal or superior quality to most national brands across the board, so for me that was never an issue. (For a far out sxample, I prefer Wegmans cola to Coca Cola, but maybe that's just me). As to needing a lot of money, at least in the DC area (where the OP is) I found you could get out of Wegmans having spent less than Giant or Safeway on comparable items.

                              1. re: johnb

                                the only brand i noticed they're missing right away is Entenmans...it's not a major problem, but the baked goods they offer are theirs or none (other than breads)

                                1. re: spinach

                                  In my case Wegman's is best for special occasions, I find Shoprite, or Foodtown have more of the brands I buy. The package stuff like the make and take is like $7 for what is barely a portion for one. There is no way I would feed my whole family for it. And I refuse to pay $22 a pound for grey sole, it might be better quality but for that price I'll go out and eat. I do like their sandwiches, I do like their fruit tart at $18 -(special occasion), I do like their cookies, their cheese, the tea selection, but the regular part of the store , your everyday items, I find that unless you buy Wegman's brand, there is a lot missing. And no Boar's Head cold cuts.

                                  1. re: shesallthat

                                    I agree their deli department is not their strong suit. Note to Danny W--fix up the deli dept.

                                    What do you find wanting with Wegmans store brand items? I have always found them to be excellent quality and excellent value to boot. Any particular items that have disappointed?

                          2. I shop frequently at Wegman's in Downingtown, PA, but I rarely buy anything off the "regular" grocery shelves -- by that I mean canned goods, paper goods, pet food, etc. I find the brand selection lacking, and anyway, that's NOT what I go to Wegman's for. It's the OTHER half of the store, everything from the cafe, through prepared foods, bakery, breads, cheeses, produce, butcher, seafood, kitchen items, Mediteranean bar, etc. that, in my mind, make Wegman's stand out from all the rest of the supermarkets I can choose from. And when I shop Wegman's, I don't shop price -- I shop for quality and uniqueness.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: CindyJ

                              Yes Cindy, that is what I mean to say. When you walk in and see all the breads and the sandwiches they make, the fancy fresh bakery, the tarts the creme brulee, the Brazilian lobster tails I buy for Christmas Eve dinner that cost $42 for TWO, my Prime Rib for Christmas day, that's what I go to Wegman's for.

                              1. re: shesallthat

                                Funny you should mention the prime rib -- my one disappointment at Wegman's was a prepared prime rib dinner I bought there last year -- the whole dinner -- which just required heating. In hindsight, I don't know why I ordered it since preparing a good rib roast is no big deal. I didn't realize when I ordered it that the dinner components would all be cooked and then frozen. By the time the rib roast was heated (not too hot, just warm enough to eat) it was overcooked, the veggies that came with the dinner were nothing special and the rolls came in a package. Based on my previous shopping experiences at Wegman's, my expectations for this prepared dinner were high. I would have been much better off if I'd bought a standing rib roast in the butcher department, the veggies in produce and the rolls in the bread department.

                            2. There's something that most of you appear to be missing. What makes Wegman's special is that it IS a mainstream supermarket. They are not serving a specialized niche market and they are neither the cheapest nor the priciest store where they operate.

                              We don't have them here in Canada, but I've been in upstate New York stores often enough to get a good impression of what they are about. The stores vary from location to location, both in the facility and in the management, but overall it's a really good shopping experience. Back in the mid eighties, at least one Wegman's in a relatively "working class" small town had a food selection comparable to that of a reasonably high end urban supermarket in 2007.

                              They've run a good operation for a very long time. We had a similar chain here with our Loblaws stores, who still stock an extraordinary range of "President's Choice" products that are the best in their categories. But Loblaws got full of themselves and, after twenty years of doing everything right, they are floundering. Wegman's still seems at the top of their game.

                              The absolute best? I don't know. Can anyone in the Minneapolis area comment on Byerly's? Or anyone in Southern California on Gelson's? These struck me as incredible places to shop, but I haven't been to either in years. Wegman's sure blows away their supermarket competition in the Buffalo/Niagara area if you are really into food. And their stores in this area are not even close to being among their newest and best.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: embee

                                ..>>The absolute best? I don't know. Can anyone in the Minneapolis area comment on Byerly's? Or anyone in Southern California on Gelson's? These struck me as incredible places to shop, but I haven't been to either in years.<<.

                                Which supermodel is most beautiful? And you could throw in Ukrops or Dierbergs or HEB or HyVee. All are grocers who are first and foremost MERCHANTS that get out there and give the customers in their LOCAL market a reason to come and shop at their stores on a weekly basis.

                                My first experience at a Wegman's was when I was in Erie, PA when I was on a business trip. I found that I could get better food at Wegman's than at 90% of the restaurants in Erie. And everything looked just so good.

                                Over Thanksgiving weekend, I went to one of the upscale Kroger's locations in Cincinnati. One of my friends was pointing out all of the "new things" that was in the store (which was probably the nicest Krogers store is that is saying much). And all I could think is they copied one feature from Fred Meyers, one from Wegmans, one from ...

                              2. As another poster commented, there are indeed whole foods stores in both DC and N. VA. One they didn't mention was the one in Tenleytown. The ones in T'town and Glover Park (Wisco Ave) are huge with prepared food bars, cheeses, etc. The P street one is pretty good. But the one in Fairfax, VA (about 30 min west of the city) is UNREAL! it's huge, like 50k sq feet, with so much prepared food/cheese/wine/etc that your eyes roll back in your head. And a wine bar and a restaurant to boot.
                                It all depends on what it's worth to you though...you feel like someone reached into your wallet and stole all your money when you walk out of whole foods but at least you know you are getting good quality. Heck, i shop there even though i am eligible to use the commissary at any military base in the world, which i do about 60% of the time. Pretty hard to argue with getting about 20 bags of groceries for about $150...
                                And an American commissary REALLY came in handy in Italy when a can of fat free pringles and a half gallon of REGULAR milk seemed exotic when i couldn't figure out wha the hell Parmalat was and why it was so lumpy when i poured it over my cereal...:)

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: DCDOLL

                                  mmmmmhhhmmmm -- cereal with parmalat. great way to add anti-oxidants :-D

                                  1. re: DCDOLL

                                    You could hit both the Whole Foods and Wegmans in Fairfax for one mega shopping trip. Personally, both are so big that they give me a headache trying to get through the store. They're destination places, not somewhere you'd pop in to pick up a couple of items because you'd never find it. I'd go to Wegmans over Whole Foods, though, if you had to go to one over the other. Whole Foods has the space but I wasn't that impressed with what they carried--it didn't seem like that much more than some of its other stores, just more spread out, other than the whole large prepared food section.

                                    The commissary carries an impressive selection of organic/healthy foods these days. I can pick up a lot of the same things I'd find at WF, at literally half the price.

                                  2. they've just updated the two wegman's stores in south jersey...adding a hot food/salad take out bar. not as big a choice as whole foods version but $2.00 cheaper per pound. they've also added a gelato bar...and the guys in the bread section told me they are finally getting a bread slicing machine (for those of us who prefer or need it presliced).

                                    they've also changed their loose tea supplier and while i will miss some of the previous selections, the new supreme earl grey is FANTASTIC. i hope they add lapsong souchong to the selections.

                                    1. Wegmans....

                                      If they don't stock...you don't need it....

                                      THE BEST