My friends from upstate and western New York tell me that Wegmans is going to be Prince Georgeâ€™s Countyâ€™s answer to Whole Foods.Â I have been described as a “food snob.” While I prefer the title of “discriminating eater,” letâ€™s just say I am a food snob, all the more reason for me to be excited about Wegmans coming to our area.
Ms. Ayana Douglas is the manager for the Wegmans Woodmore Town Center.Â Both she and Carol Glover of Smart Works marketing company most graciously agreed to give me a preview tour of Wegmans and I have agreed to not freak them out with my uber-excitement over everything inside the store.
Iâ€™ve been in Whole Foods, Super Fresh, Magruders, Aldi, Giant, Safeway, Harris Teeter, Picadilly, Publix, Winn-Dixie, and A&P, but NEVER have I been so completely impressed with the offerings of any grocery store the way I am with Wegmans.Â And during my tour the shelves werenâ€™t even fully stocked.Â Still, Iâ€™m giddy with excitement.
Carol Glover and Ayana Douglas took me to each major section of the store highlighting major features of each.Â Some of my highlights:
- ProduceÂ â€” Iâ€™ll never have to buy wilted, tasteless cilantro again! Wegmans, as it turns out, started off as a fresh produce pushcart in 1916 by brothers John and Walter Wegman and today, produce is still their crowning glory.Â They will have up to 700 different fruits and vegetables on any given day of which 100 or more will be organic.
- CashiersÂ â€” There are 28 manned cash registers.Â That means no more bringing your sweater in prep to stand in lines that stretch to the refrigerated meat section.Â Additionally, there are more cashiers in specialty areas like the hot food bars and the Complements Shop, which sells table decorations/accessories, kitchen tools, and cookware.
- Fresh SeafoodÂ â€” Ok.Â At this section, I felt a welling up in my tear ducts when I heard tell of Wegmans relationships with local, national, and international seafood dealers.Â No more frozen crab legs/shrimp that, even in their frozen state, have that fishy smell only half a can of Old Bay can contain.Â For those who have special requests, i.e. tuna collars, fish heads for stock, Wegmans will provide these items if you give them a call.
- Competitive Pricing â€”Â Yes Wegmans sounds like a chez-foofoo shopping experience but the high quality does not automatically translate into high prices.Â Did I mention that most brands of Wegmans brand cereals are $1.99 everyday?Â There will be boards throughout the store the list comparisons of Wegmans prices with their competitors.Â Chutzpah! Safeway, Giant, Shoppers, you better step up your game and quick.
- Market CafÃ© and Food Bar Restaurant â€”Â There is a full-out 32 seat restaurant inside Wegmans called the Food Bar.Â Unheard of â€˜round these parts.Â Honestly would you even want a restaurant in Giant?Â I think not.Â The Market CafÃ© offers Indian, Asian, American, Sushi, vegetarian, soups, pizza, bar-b-que, and so much more than can be contained here.Â There is indoor/outdoor seating for more than 300 people.
- Coca Cola Freestyle â€” No you donâ€™t know what that is but you will.Â Oh you will.Â This big Coca Cola machine with its touchscreen allows you to mix and match coke products and flavors to create your very own; itâ€™s capable of creating up to 106 different concoctions.Â This is Coca Cola Freestyleâ€™s first appearance grocery store.Â Make sure you go over and introduce yourself.
Yes, I admit that I sound like I work for the company.Â Maybe thatâ€™s because in my short time as a resident of Prince Georges County, I have not found this level of customer service, knowledge of industry, or pride in product that is evident in this unfinished Wegmans store.
By the time this article hits, Wegmansâ€™ grand opening would have taken place. But as of right now, Iâ€™m throwing down a gauntlet at all the surrounding grocery stores and at you, the customer.Â I challenge you to challenge these stores to provide a shopping experience indicative of the money youâ€™re spending.Â I challenge management and staff of Giant, Safeway, and especially the Campus Way Shoppers Food Warehouse, to compete for my hard earned dollars.Â You can start by losing the brash and rude approach to customers Iâ€™ve witnessed in the aforementioned Shoppers.Â Not all my experiences have been bad.Â I love the Collington Plaza Giant food storeâ€™s selection and service, but itâ€™s a 20 minute drive in the opposite direction of my home.Â Sadly, Iâ€™ve continued to take that drive because it has been worth it.
Every now and again, Iâ€™ll be stopping through my area Giant, Safeway, and Shoppers to see if anything has changed.Â I invite my readers to email me any observations.Â Weâ€™ll see what will become of this.