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Wegmans going downhill

Sadly, a corporate decision has been made to streamline all stores, resulting in what I can only describe as a less than ideal shopping experience.

What once used to be an upscale supermarket is now barely discernible from Sam's or other big box stupidmarkets. Apparently, because some of the newer stores in metro areas don't have as much storage space in the back, there are now sections that basically look like the storage has been moved *into* the store.

Never mind that the international section is now spread all over the place, with an aisle for "Asian" and rice.

Shame.

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  1. Which location(s) have you experienced this?

    4 Replies
    1. re: cwdonald

      State College, PA. But according to the manager, this is happening across the board.

      1. re: linguafood

        Whoa, small world! I used to go to that Wegman's regularly when I was in college.

        1. re: Cynic2701

          You must have graduated fairly recently (?). Didn't that Wegmans open in '04 or '05?

          1. re: linguafood

            Yeah, I graduated back in '09. Still visit my brothers out there sometimes.

    2. Linguafood- I'm also in State College, and completely agree. The tall shelves on the end don't bother me so much, but as a result of them, the other aisles are now even skinnier. And the layout has no rhyme or reason, as you mentioned. Why break out the International food into different aisles? And the seasonal items are no longer near the checkout, which I feel is a mistake. I've walked past there on many occasions and bought something on impulse while I was looking for a checkout line. Now they have coffee and tea there!

      1. There are two Wegmans near me and the older one does seem more upscale. I miss the hot entrees with sides you could get to eat at the food court or take home. You can still get them cold and I suppose you could microwave them in store but it's not the same.
        I really liked the coffee bar at the new wegmans. A few times when the place first opened my friends and I hit the pub and then relaxed with coffee after. The coffee bar used to be open til ten pm on fri and saturdays. then they cut the hours til nine but good luck getting coffee at ten of nine. Other nights it used to be nine and they dialed it back til eight. Wouldn't surprise me if everything got rolled back yet another hour.
        I like the food bars but they keep taking them down earlier and earlier. And my friend John said they continued to remove food from the tray he was serving himself from. He said it was like fighting for his food.
        The pub does some annoying things as well. For example I got the crab cakes appetizer, and the cakes were great but sauce was squirted all over them and I would have liked the option to have the sauce on the side.
        Even in the first month the new place opened I almost got a curry sauce shower because the food bar attendant tugged on a lid or something too hard and yellow sauce sprayed the air. Luckily I have good reflexes. The newer Wegmans is in Montgomeryville and the older one is in Warrington Pa.

        1. The area flagship store is Collegeville. I'll have to check this out and report back. This would be so sad if true all over.
          CP

          3 Replies
          1. re: Chefpaulo

            We just moved to Phoenixville from Wayne. As such, the Collegeville Weg's is now my "home" Wegman's. My regular used to be the KOP Wegmans. I do NOT like the Collegeville store at all. The layout is far better at KOP..and the Collegeville store's layout makes no sense--not to mention they never have Tabouli mix when I want it. Started going back to KOP on my way back from work.
            I hope Wegman's isn't oversaturating itself the way ACME did.

            1. re: jarona

              I live in Collegeville and work in Wayne. To paraphrase the empathic sentiments of a recent ex-President..."Ah feel you' pain."

              The K of P store is the "mirror image" of Collegeville as they were all designed.
              For someone with life-long left-right directionality problems, I'm constantly asking for directions in K o' P trying to reorient myself in this reverse mode world.
              You must be equally frustrated with Collegeville.

              I must get out to C' ville to see if these diatribes of Big Box accusations are manifesting. There will be no joy in Mudville...or Collegeville...if true.
              CP

              1. re: Chefpaulo

                Yeah..and I'm tired of not being able to find "non" organic veg. Why? 'Cause of the pricing. $1.49 for one little zuchinni? I think not! I'm going to head over to "Produce Junction" instead. Everyone tells me it's great!

          2. Going down hill big time! I live in the Rochester area, where corporate headquarters is located. I live in a location that's equally convenient to the newest Wegman's and to the flagship store.

            Here's what I've noticed:
            o In every department, more than half of the shelf space is devoted to Wegman's house brands and the selection of national or specialty brands has become increasingly limited.

            For example, the shelves contain a dizzying array of Wegman's brand dressings: regular dressing, lite dressing, fat free dressing, Foods You Feel Good About dressing, organic dressing, and I'm possibly forgetting some other types. While there are some unique flavors in some of the dressing lines, the repetition of the same flavor dressing in every single formula is staggering.

            The stores still carry the national names in salad dressings (e.g. Ken's, Wishbone, Paul Newman). However, the selection for each brand and each category is quite limited. The selection of small independent brands of dressings has been cut back dramatically in the 15 months since the East Avenue store opened.

            While some of the Wegman's products are quite acceptable, this approach is driving out the unique and the distinctive products that the store used to keep in its shelves.

            Or consider the example of bleach. Shoppers are confronted by one row of Clorox regular bleach in 64 ounces and five rows of Clorox regular bleach in the 121 ounce size. The only way to get a splashless formulation is to buy Wegman's brand or the 121 ounce size of Clorox. The rest of the bleach area is stocked with multiple rows of every conceivable formulation and fragrance of 121 ounce Wegman's brand bleach.

            Presumably there is little difference between the Wegman's brand and the Clorox brand. I'm certainly not going to buy two bottles of bleach to do a head to head comparison. However, I've lost the freedom of choice.

            Since I want the Splashless formulation, I'm faced with two less than wholly satisfactory options: deal with a size that is unpleasantly large and bulky or transfer bleach into a smaller bottle thus keeping two active, open bottles of bleach. I'm willing to pay a few pennies more to have the formulation I want in a size that's convenient, but Wegman's has decided I can't have that control if I shop at their store.

            This creeping trend to sell only the bigger size of any item to compete financially with the big box stores is showing up in the food departments, too. For example, the East Avenue Wegman's used to offer a choice of a 12 oz, or 14 oz, or 18 ounce box of Cheerios. Within the last two weeks, the 14 ounce box has disappeared and that spot on the shelves has been replaced by the option of two bundled together 18 ounce boxes of cereal. To appreciate the absurdity of this recent switch, you have to understand that the East Avenue store is the only in-city Wegman's in existence. It is a wholly new store, built on the site of the first-ever Wegman's, and exists because corporate felt sentimental about its history. They felt they couldn't/shouldn't shutter every branch in the city where this chain began. But there's no good match between the demographic of the shoppers and the way the stores are stocked.

            Admittedly there are plenty of very large 100 year old homes on the streets leading to the East Avenue store, but a sizable fraction of these have been converted to apartments so there's only one or two occupants in each unit -- not the original large families for which the houses were intended. I'm sure a house filled with four apartments shops differently from a house with large numbers of children. In my immediate neighborhood, the residents are retired couples or unmarried younger adults. Nevertheless, the stock in the East Ave branch skews toward the jumbo bargain sizes of most items.

            It's principle behind these changes that bothers me. As a shopper, I feel that I'm being manipulated. It seems so blatant that the array on the shelves is for Wegman's convenience and increased profit rather than for my satisfaction.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Indy 67

              I am so sad to hear this. I went to Eastman and used to shop at the East Ave. Wegs regularly (this was many years before the current updated iteration, however). When the Pittsford Wegs opened, I tended to do most of my shopping there, but I still visited the East Ave store for quick trips.

              Anyway, I'm just sad to hear that they're going downhill - Wegmans has been my favorite grocery store since I started college and I go out of my way to go to one any time I'm in an area that has one. It's been a couple of years but I remember feeling like something had changed the last time I was in one, but I chalked it up to it being an inferior location (they all seem inferior to Pittsford!). Bummer.

              1. re: Indy 67

                I've never considered Wegmans to be a store where I'd shop for staples like paper goods, laundry products or canned goods. I shop in the Downingtown, PA store and early on it became obvious to me that the selection of such products was far smaller than in my local Giant or SuperFresh.

                I shop Wegmans more for specialty items -- cheeses (and accompaniments) definitely; prepared foods; some meat and seafood products. Also bread and Asian/Indian ingredients. And I like their Mediterranean bar and hot/cold food bars.

                1. re: CindyJ

                  In the Rochester area Wegmans so dominates the local markets that there isn't good competition or alternatives. There's a chain called Tops where I've shopped twice. In the downtown branch -- within one block of the only downtown Rochester Wegmans -- the store is dark and dirty looking. The higher than Wegmans prices are further disincentive. There are larger stores in the suburbs that may be more appealing. When I'm near a branch of Target I pop in for laundry products and paper goods but even these non perishables won't work for any city dweller with normal - size accommodations. There's a new independent grocery store coming to Rochester within the month and I'm looking forward to its arrival. I don't think it's arrival will challenge or threaten Wegmans but it will be a welcome addition for city dwellers.

                  1. re: Indy 67

                    Yes, the Tops around the corner from the East Ave. Wegs has always been disgusting. There are better Tops locations but it's still not nearly as nice as Wegmans (or at least as Wegs used to be).

                    1. re: biondanonima

                      Good to know that if I'm near a different Tops and I need some product, I ought to give a suburban branch a try. The two times I went to the University/Winton Road location, I saw a couple of jarred/canned products that I used to buy when I lived elsewhere and that Wegmans doesn't carry. However, I walked out without buying anything because the item I most needed was milk and every carton in the refrigerator case was past its pull date.

              2. I don't go to Wegman's often because it's out of my way -- about a 40 minute round-trip. When I do go, it's usually to get the "international" foods that my local supermarkets don't carry. And indeed I've recently found it more difficult to find what I'm looking for.

                1. I've always had a problem with Wegman's because of the push of their own label and lack of national brands.
                  I don't see the issues posted by linquafood, though.

                  I do like a lot of their foods,(no other store in my area carries Green Mountain coffer which I prefer) and shop there frequently since it is the closest grocery store to me.

                  1. I've gotten frustrated lately with ours (Malvern, PA) because of their increasingly limited selection of non-organic items. Yesterday I needed a 1-lb package of ground lamb, which I have gotten there in the not-too-distant past. After searching in vain, I found a meat department worker restocking the cooler shelves, who told me that they only carry ground lamb (and pork) in organic varieties. So my lamb cost $7.49/lb; pork was $5.49/lb. Prices are what they are, but I really don't understand the rationale for only carrying the higher priced organic items... oh, wait a minute, yeah, I DO understand: higher profit for the store. Sigh. I shop there because it's the closest decent store with good produce, but if this continues, it will no longer be a one-stop shopping trip for me.

                    1. I agree! I especially don't like that they are PUSHING their own Wegman's brand products more and more now. I don't appreciate having to go to more than one store for stuff. I will only go now to get beer, and larabars mostly. They don't have my Newman's salsa or Applegate meats anymore and the cereal isle is awful. I'm very disappointed with Wegman's. So I go to GIANT or Shoprite more now. Shoprite almost always has everything that I want or need.

                      1. It would appear that, despite contrary claims, *some* items from the old 'international' section are gone... not just distributed all over the freaking store.

                        Case in point: Grace brand scotch bonnet sauce. Used to be on the Caribbean shelves. I was sent to the "Latin/Taco" aisle (uggghhh). Not there.

                        Feh.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: linguafood

                          Wegman's shelfing practices defy common sense IMHO. I live in an area where beans and rice are all shelved in the same area, because, like, they're all beans or rice. The Wegmen's I've been to seem to differentiate between "real" rice and "ethnic" rice based on criteria that may make sense to them but not to me.

                          Back to topic: I was seriously underwhelmed when I was at their South Buffalo store last spring. No real butcher, very few non-pre-packaged meats, visibly rotting produce on display, heaps of pre-packaged meals - at least TOPS had non-surly checkers.

                          1. re: linguafood

                            Just FYI, I recently found Grace brand scotch bonnet sauce at Walmart, of all places. You might have a look there, if you happen to have one nearby.

                            1. re: biondanonima

                              I do, but I don't shop there :-)

                              We have a few 'international' stores I could try, tho.

                          2. I don't go to Wegmans often - generally once a year in June as part of a birthday tradition - but I have noticed that every year, the produce selection has become less and less interesting. Several years ago, it was still varied enough (at the Northborough MA location) that I found numerous things I'd never tried fresh before, or hadn't previously seen in New England, or had never heard of. On my most recent visit, not only was there nothing in the produce department that I couldn't find at my local supermarket, there was actually noticeably less variety than at that supermarket - even in small areas like the number of different types of lettuce.

                            Now, I still find plenty there to make me happy I made the trip, and I appreciate some of the upstate-NY-specific stuff that's otherwise hard to find in northern New England, but I definitely agree that it seems less distinct than it used to.

                            1. Wegmans is often cited as a "Dream Store" by Philly residents who idealize the suburban Wegman's stores and pine for a never to come urban location

                              My feeling has always be Meh.

                              Lots of "products" and prepared foods I don't buy & expensive perimeter items (produce cheese and meat)that I can pay too much for elsewhere thank you

                              It is a nice store but too big for having too little I really want, also the wine selection in their liquor store in cherry hill is nothing special

                              I never got the hype, its big, its clean but its nothing really all that special to me. Certainly not worth driving to NJ for - but a lot of people do it.

                              11 Replies
                              1. re: JTPhilly

                                "Wegmans is often cited as a "Dream Store" by Philly residents who idealize the suburban Wegman's stores and pine for a never to come urban location."

                                The Pittsford Plaza flagship store is the model that folks drool over, but that place is unique even in the Rochester area, where the family lives and the corporate offices are headquartered. (I'm told that Canandaigua branch of Wegman's, where one of the family has a home, is nicer than the run of the mill store.) For example, Pittsford carries more cheeses in its cheese department and more specialty products than the ordinary Wegman's.

                                As for an urban location, I hope no one is holding his breath. Over time, Wegman's shuttered all but one of the in-town markets that made the company's reputation. Their marketing model requires too much square footage for an urban location. Only sentimentality saved the location of the first-ever Wegman's in the city. Since the re-build is much smaller than the typical Wegman's the ratio of house brands to national or specialty brands is even more extreme.

                                1. re: Indy 67

                                  That may well be, but for someone who lives in the boonies and not in a city -- where the store has the exact same square footage available it had when it first opened..... well, there's not much reasoning besides "corporate streamlining" for turning a quarter of the store into a Sam's clone.

                                  1. re: linguafood

                                    There actually was a Wegmans in downtown Rochester when I started college in the mid-90s, which is about as urban as you can get (the store was inside the now-defunct Midtown Mall). However, it was NOTHING like the other Wegmans locations in Rochester and especially not like the Pittsford Wegs (which truly is the Mecca of all Wegs). It was probably the nicest place in the Midtown Mall,but that's not saying much, and if I recall correctly the Wegmans closed before the rest of the mall did, likely due to the impossibility of keeping it up to their standards.

                                  2. re: Indy 67

                                    "As for an urban location, I hope no one is holding his breath. Over time, Wegman's shuttered all but one of the in-town markets that made the company's reputation. Their marketing model requires too much square footage for an urban location."

                                    Boston, in the Fenway, opening next year. As urban a location as you can get.

                                    That said, for all the discussion of "Wegmans will change grocery shopping in Boston forever!" back when the Northborough store opened several years ago, or when the Chestnut Hill location opened earlier this year, that hasn't happened. Like, at all. Although the new store is only about five miles away from us, it's maybe a once a month shop at most. Just not enough to differentiate it from the places we already shop.

                                    1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                      Interesting news about the Fenway site. Boston certainly has a greater population density compared to Rochester, NY. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts about the Fenway site when it opens, especially compared to the existing Chestnut Hill location.

                                      1. re: Indy 67

                                        They'll probably be very similar: Chestnut Hill is reportedly an example of what the chain is calling their "urban concept" stores: it's markedly smaller than the sprawling store in Northborough, which is based on the traditional Pittsford store model.

                                      2. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                        The East Avenue Rochester Wegmans opened about 15 months ago. Apparently I bought the sentimental PR that the re - build of that store was to honor the company's origins. Learning about the recently built Chestnut Hill location and, soon, the Fenway location makes me realize East Ave was basically the prototype for any urban location for Wegmans.

                                        1. re: Indy 67

                                          Well, it makes sense for them to have an urban model along with the Pittsford concept: there are plenty of locations that would benefit from a full-service supermarket where you simply couldn't put something as huge as a suburban Wegmans. And given how demographic shifts are starting to show a move back into cities from the suburbs, it's just smart to have that option for the company's long-term health.

                                        2. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                          Jenny Ondioline, I am now listening to "Jenny Ondoline" for the first time. What a great song. Thank you for turning me on to it.

                                          1. re: Jay F

                                            You're welcome! I hope it's the full-length 18-minute version!

                                            1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                              Yep.

                                              All these years, I just assumed it was your real name.

                                    2. It's Wegmans, btw. No apostrophe.

                                      1. Interesting, I'll have to keep my eye out. I go there weekly but the past few months grocery shopping has been an "in and out, grab what you need and go" rather than my preferred browsing method. I have noticed a lot of end caps and promotion of Wegmans products.

                                        1. My mom is not a fan of the redesigned Fairfax va location. It was great when the wine was basically its own store. Separate entrance (but still accessible from the main store) straight from the garage, an easy in out without having to deal with the crowds in the store. They had a few wines and beers in the main store. But last year? they moved the wine to the main store. Although she had been told that the selection of food hasn't changed, my mother swears that it has. Less variety/choice, tighter aisles, and items have been moved or theyno longer carry them. It's still her best option for food shopping, but if she had a choice she'd go elsewhere.

                                          My main complaint is it always seems easier to find the expensive meats than the inexpensive. I would rather all the duck be together than the $75 duck prominently displayed and the $30 around bend tucked in the corner.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: viperlush

                                            Never been impressed with their meat selection. I take my car to get serviced near the Fairfax Wegmans and usually stop by to pick up a few things. The last couple of times, the garage/lot has been a congested nightmare. Almost as horrible as Whole Foods. When I did manage to find a spot, I also noticed the product consolidation; they stopped carrying some of the natural casing hotdogs I like and their beer selection seems to have narrowed down as well.

                                            For meat, I always end up at the Asian supermarkets like Super H or Grand Mart. If you're willing to learn how to trim your own steaks, their deals on whole ribeyes and hanger steaks can't be beat.

                                            1. re: monkeyrotica

                                              My mom tends to stick with Costco for meat, WFs for fish, and Wegmans for everything else. They did stop making the loaf of bread that my family enjoys (epi), but the manager told my mom that with 24 hr notice they will bake a couple loaves. I think it's the customer service that keeps her.

                                              Super H is a fun store to shop at but the traffic and their parking lot tend to keep us away.

                                          2. I stumbled on this thread when searching for something else but it is timely as I just mentioned to my husband this weekend that I was shocked at the change in the Mechanicsburg, PA Wegmans. I hadn't been there in 12+ months.

                                            For example -

                                            the change in the international section as others noticed. I was very disappointed as I have grand plans for a major shopping binge.

                                            Less selection in the frozen seafood department, it now looks like any other grocery store in the area

                                            Lots more house brand, especially canned goods, that have replaced the unique items that used to draw me to Wegmans

                                            The produce section seems smaller and looks very generic now.

                                            The bright spot was the fresh seafood, great selection and it looked fresh. (this was a Friday afternoon)

                                            1. I don't go to Wegmans often enough to comment on these apparent changes, but speaking of Wegmans brand products, the organic lemonades look exactly like the Trader Joes organic lemonades, right down to the bottle shape and flavors: lemonade, limeade, raspberry lemonade, strawberry lemonade, and mango lemonade. I picked up two bottles -- on special for $1.99.

                                              Can anyone confirm or deny that these are the same products?