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Dec 30, 2011 08:07 AM

Wegmans strategies?

Mr. Swank and I are jaunting to Wegmans tomorrow for the first time (yep, we're W virgins). Any strategies for conquering the Northboro store? We don't want to become paralyzed by choices. We're hoping to stock up on exotic stuff -- spicy, rare things -- and perhaps wine. We also want to dine at one of the food stalls. Recommendations? Ideas? Must-buys??

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  1. hmmm im not sure they have much for spicy, exotic or rare but not sure what you have in mind exactly. They do have a very large cheese selection.
    As for the dining i think the subs are the best bet.
    For some upstate NY things you dont see much around here...
    Zwiegels hotdogs - The "pop" type...Red and White.
    Dinosaur bbq sauce
    Country Sweet Chicken/Rib Sauce
    Weber horseradish mustard.

    5 Replies
    1. re: hargau

      Don't forget the kimmelweck rolls....

      And they have Hoffman's sausages from Syracuse.

      And Bison onion dip (noticeably better than other premade onion dips).

      Their sicilian braid bread is fantastic.

      Their delux cakes (especially the white cake) are better than many artisinal bakeries.

      Part of the problem for newbies is not knowing things they carry not otherwise carried around here, so you don't think to look for it.

      1. re: Karl S

        Another part of the problem is people going to this place as a "destination" and even traveling 1+hrs to do so. It was never designed for such, it really was meant to be "just" a grocery store, but a damn good one. So people setting it up in their heads as some disneyland destination experience are surely in for disappointment. Now if you were to think of it as your new local grocery store, cause you live in the area and it is, then you will see wow this is so much better than my old crappy local grocery store...

        1. re: hargau


          For example, here's one: Boston-area supermarkets don't carry fresh ham. It's bizarre - this is not the case in many other parts of the country. Wegmans carries fresh ham. Bostonians inured to never looking for it or used to having to special order it wouldn't likely think to look for it....

          1. re: hargau

            My sentiments exactly, hargau. Since I pass by there everyday on the way home from work, it's a reasonable stop off/shop.

            1. re: Science Chick

              I lived in Rochester for 7 years and there are currently 19 of these within a 25 mile radius. I also feel there is a lighter population in that radius.

              The Northborough store is 19 miles from me now. I went a few times when it first opened to check it out and get some of the items mentioned in this thread. I will return maybe every month or two but certainly wont use it for my weekly shopping. If it was a little closer i would.

      2. It really isn't all that daunting once you are in their for a bit. If you want to dine last, I recommend you enter the store in the center entrance, away from the whole food court area, which is on the far right as you face the store from the parking lot. As for browsing strategies, once I get past the meat, cheese, produce area, I tend to navigate the store from the central aisle, that bissects all of the aisles. That way you can look down the aisles easily and see what (generally) is there. Also, I find there is less foot traffic there, which is far more pleasant.

        Wines.....meh. I haven't found their liquor department any great shakes, either from a selection or price perspective. I agree about the cheeses, though, which are outstanding. Their foreign food aisle is pretty impressive, compared to most stores, as is their organic/natural food section. Fish is great, albeit quite expensive.

        1. We went with high anticipation for the first time a couple weeks ago and it was big and fun to walk around, but I wasn't amazed and planning future trips. Cheese dept. was great as was the meat dept; I found rabbit there, which I can't find in most supermarkets. I was disappointed in the food stalls, everything looked kind of tired, dried out and not fresh, but maybe that is because we were there early on a Sunday evening. I would not do all of my shopping there, basics I can find cheaper in my local supermarket. Cheese was worth the trip, though.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Kat

            I agree w/Kat on all points. I was underwhelmed by Wegman's.

          2. I thought their cheese and bakery sections were both outstanding. I thought the liquor prices rivaled Kappy's, I can't comment about the wines though. For day to day items I wasn't impressed on prices. But I very much enjoyed the whole experience and will absolutely return.

            oh - I recommend signing up for their courtesy card. I got a free bottle of flavored oil (yet to try), and a shopping bag.

            1. I have yet to venture to a MA Wegman's, but I keep telling any rabid Wegman's-newbie just what others have said - it's a nice grocery store, but in light of all the other options in the Boston area, I just don't view it as a destination. I went to grad school in Syracuse, and compared to the other choices near me (Price Chopper), Wegman's was a palace.


              4 Replies
              1. re: gansu girl

                I made my first (and probably last) visit since it's so far. Frankly, just not blown away by the products -- yes, a few interesting regional specialties as others mentioned -- but I thought the cheese dept. was very average and expensive for what it offers. What's with all the cryovac meat? The deli people were nice and the area well-staffed, which is unusual at most big stores. The beer/wine area was offering a few good deals, but I still would go to Costco if I was stocking up. As much as I complain about the gridlock inside/outside the Somerville Market Basket, there's no real flow of customer traffic at Wegman's until you get to the up-and-down aisles. That whole right side of the store (where the food court is back to the meat counter) is a cluster-f of people aimlessly wandering around looking for free food samples and bumping into each other.

                Prices are OK compared to the big grocery chains -- Shaw's, S&S, Roche, Hannaford -- but I shop at MB and Russo's and WFoods, so things are mostly more expensive at Wegman's than what I'm used to paying. Wanted to love it, but just not worth the drive.

                1. re: misscucina

                  Yeah, it really *isn't* a destination store. But for me, passing by on the way home from Worcester to Newton everyday, it's a decent stopover for dinner shopping. They really have a much better natural/organic section than most supermarkets, which is important to me, and prices on those items usually on par or beat WF. For central MA, it really is a huge step above what is locally available. I'm rarely impressed with their liquor selection/pricing, and can do far better at a number of nearby places. Once they open their Burlington and Newton stores, it will be interesting to see how they do against local metro Boston competitors. As you noted, their service and quality (on in-store made items and Wegman's brand) are primarily where they've built their reputation.

                  I am surprised that you found their cheese dept. only average. I find a much larger selection than at my 2 local WFs, which is my only basis for comparison (Formaggio just too inconvenient for routine shopping), with better pricing than WF for many items (eg Humbolt Fog is ~$1.50/lb less than at WF). In particular, they have alot of ripened cheeses w/truffles that I don't find at WF, and a much broader/interesting selection of cheeses in the gruyere/comte realm. Ditto for cheddars, where I've recently bought one of the nicest I've ever had (Yancey's XXX from NY....surprised by this one!). Did you see the additional cheeses in the cases that run between the main cheese dept. and the meat department? They actually put alot of good stuff in there as well (eg that's where they sell the Humbolt Fog, other goats and the massive cheddar selection).

                  1. re: Science Chick

                    I buy only a limited variety of cheeses (mostly Italian or cheddars) so Russo's and Formaggio do the job for me. Russo's is a very good value and Formaggio has a few unique things I like (like Hillman's fresh goat cheese) and I live near the one in the South End, so it's relatively convenient. If I'm just buying your basic mozzarella to put on pizza or Cabot Monterey Jack logs, Market Basket is the best value. Last week they were on sale for $2.00 a piece which is an absolute steal.

                2. re: gansu girl

                  I concur.. first, if you go, tie it to eating a meal - like lunch, so you can hit up their prepared foods area. I will say the one area I was impressed with was the meat department. There was a large variety of cuts, and I picked up some rendered duck fat on a lark. Part of the reason I praised this area is just due to the paucity of local butchers around these days - I'd still rather know a good meat cutter than visit a well stocked meat department at a grocery store.

                  Very little in the way of private label stuff that I'd consider trip-worthy for. Bulk foods were good, but not any more expansive that a typical Whole Foods. Ethnic foods were not anything eye opening, especially with lots of local Indian and Asian markets. Produce was solid, but again, a good WF's or Market Basket is going to have an equivalent selection. The employees were very energetic and friendly. And they had a nice electric train hanging from the ceiling

                  Basically, being in Metro Boston, I know where I can get anything that I saw at Wegmans, often with better quality (e.g. New Deal seafood), though the quality at Wegman's seemed perfectly fine. If I lived 10 minutes from the store, it would be my go to place, but 45 minutes makes it a store unlikely to be revisited, though through no big fault of its own.