So late one recent weekend night, I got the hankering to go check out Wegman's way out in Virginia. I come from a long line of late night shoppers so this was not too unusual for me. I'll never forget my aunt taking me to a new grocery store somewhere in Texas in the middle of the night and apologizing because it was weird.
You know, there are lots of weird things in life -- voting for people who will work against your own best interests, seriously wearing one's collar up for fashion's sake or serving tortillas with mu shu -- but checking out a grocery store just doesn't rank too high, if at all, on my weird list. So with the perceived support of my aunt, and my mom who would take us out shopping very late as well, I headed out to Wegman's in Fairfax.
What's Wegman's? It has shades of Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Central Market (I know CM from TX), and Eatzi's, and your everyday grocery store.
Packed with gourmet and organic, but still carrying your mass-produced Jifs and Ols El Pasos, I'd say what separates Wegman's from your typical grocery store is the amount of onsite-prepped food that is avaialable. That combination is pretty great and I do like being able to grab my Charmin with my Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog (a cheese with a great name and a better taste).
I didn't think it was that different from Whole Foods, but I was also there quite late and most of the fun was over for the night. It did look like you could get an array of sandwiches, sushi, soups, salads, breads and more and enjoy your bounty off in the cafe. I did see a deli, an extensive bakery, quite a bit of chocolates and chocolate gifts, and several areas of pre-prepped dinners.
Several of the prices I saw were better than Whole Foods and other markets, but some were the same. I'd be surprised if shoppers found it more expensive than the others, but it's possible.
Tea lovers will rejoice at their selection of teas in every shade, berry, and brewing contraption. Likewise, they seem to be doing well in the basics department, though, of course, that is somewhat overwhelming. There were some delicious cheeses, but I think Whole Foods gives them a run for their money in that area.
In the end, I am sure I would go back, but I would like to be there when all the bells and whistles are going.
It's worth noting that Wegman's was honored as the best place to work in the U.S. by Fortune magazine. Not too shabby.