It is hard to write about Wegmans without coming off as at least a bit effusive.
I can easily tell myself "it's just a grocery store," but everyone knows that's not true. If it were just a grocery store, my inbox would not have scores of messages from local residents asking me when the Crofton location will open.
If you didn't know by now, the store will open on Oct. 28 at 7 a.m. in the Waugh Chapel Towne Centre.
"We always open on a Sunday and make a big deal of it," store manager Gerry Troisi told me in an interview. "We're expecting a huge crowd."
I sat down with Troisi and some other Wegmans officials to get some details on the new store, which will be the 6th in Maryland and the 81st overall from the Rochester, NY-based chain.
There are many unique things about Wegmans, but the most striking is probably the sheer size of this operation. Take in the following numbers:
- 120,000 - The total square footage of the store. That's on par with some of the largest big box retailers in the area, including Target and Walmart.
- 70,000 - The total number of products available at the store.
- 700 - The number of varieties of fruits and vegetables.
- 350 - The number of types of cheese available.
- 300 - the number of seats at the "Market Cafe," which includes a coffee shop, pizza bar, wok and sushi bars.
- 500 - The total number of full and part-time jobs filled at the new Wegmans.
- 5,000 - The number of applications for those positions.
- 6 - The number of months they've been training the new employees.
It would be impossible to outline every detail of every store aisle, but Troisi conveyed that customers will enter to find large stations featuring fresh fruit and vegetables. There, customers can have a store employee cut up fruits and veggies any way they like, or even show them how to cook it. Customers can also buy fresh produce already sliced and packaged.
To the right of the produce stations will be a pharmacy, aisle of beauty products and then a "Nature's Marketplace" store, featuring organic and gluten-free items. (Wegmans spokeswoman Jo Natale said that's the fastest-growing segment of products.)
If you need products in bulk, there's an entire section for that. Frozen foods? There are two aisles that go from the front of the store to the back. The dairy section, meanwhile, is as half as wide as the store.
Troisi said he was particularly proud of the store's Day Boat Station, which will feature fresh seafood. It's the largest of its kind in the entire chain. The station will display the type of fish on sale, plus the name of the boat and captain who caught it. Customers can have a chef steam their lobster, crab or fish while they wait.
What else? Let's see ... a full-service deli and bakery. A flower shop. A section of small appliances. A tea shop with a selection of about 500 teas. A Mediterranean bar with imported and domestic olives.
Wegmans does whatever it can to draw from vendors located in Maryland and Virginia. Troisi said this store will benefit from the vendor connections established by the other five stores in the state.
I asked Wegmans officials about the issue of pricing. All of this stuff is nice, but what if I just want to come in for a can of peas?
Troisi said the company works hard to ensure that most basic items are priced at or even lower than competitors' items. While they don't offer "sales" in the traditional sense, they operate with an "everyday low price" policy. Moreover, Wegmans installs seasonal price freezes on hundreds of popular products.
"We will be very competitive in the market," Troisi said. "We always have been."
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Wegmans does not offer a club card. In fact, the store offers a Wegmans Shoppers Club card to customers.
Keep checking with Patch as the opening of Wegmans gets closer. Are you looking forward to the store opening?