Wegmans keeps setting its own trends
At a time when many food stores are getting smaller, and many malls are struggling, Wegmans is bucking both trends by opening a massive, multilevel supermarket in a mall.
One of the company’s largest stores to date, the 146,000-square-foot location opening April 29 in Natick Mall has two stories, each with direct access to the mall. The store’s central atrium features a cart conveyer system with an adjacent escalator for customers to move between floors, while the spacious layout offers almost 70,000 items, more than 3,000 of which are organic.
The second level offers The Burger Bar and Buzz Coffee Shop, offering a range of restaurant-quality foods and plenty of seating, along with fresh produce, bakery, seafood, meat, cheese, deli, charcuterie, catering and a floral shop, with the Mexican-themed Blue Dalia Restaurant & Tequila Bar set to open there on Friday, May 4. The ground level, meanwhile, stocks natural foods, grocery, dairy, bulk and frozen items, in addition to health-and-wellness and home and entertaining products, and a premier selection of wine, liquor and beer. Instacart deliveries from the Natick Mall store will begin May 2.
“We’ve brought together a terrific team, and we’re still hiring for available full- and part-time opportunities,” said Boscia of the anticipated 550 associates who will fill positions at the store. Ahead of the opening, new employees have been training for as much as six months at the chain’s other Massachusetts stores.
Added the store manager: “This is a beautiful place to visit for anything from a cup of coffee and a snack to a full grocery shop or a memorable dinner at Blue Dalia. Apart from the look of the store, what may surprise people most is our combination of quality, incredible service and low prices. We want to be the place where families, business people, mall shoppers and the community gather.”
Shoppers can park their cars in parking deck F across from the Natick Mall Wegmans’ main entrance, and an enclosed walkway ushers customers directly into the store’s second level.
Based in Rochester, N.Y., family-owned Wegmans operates 96 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts.
Last fall, Progressive Grocer spoke to Paul Milner, marketing director of Displaydata, a U.K. electronic shelf label provider with U.S. headquarters in Atlanta, who encouraged other grocers to open locations within shopping malls, which he contended would revitalize malls' business, boost the local economy and provide convenience to customers.