Saturday, August 25, 2012

Wegmans: HEB for the Northeast...

So if you are not from San Antonio or pretty much south of Dallas, you don't have a real appreciation for my obsession with HEB, or even know what an HEB is.  HEB and their super store, HEB Plus is a grocery chain that pretty much dominates these parts.  Of course, a lot of local folks despise HEB not unlike many people despise Walmart.  But the reality is, not necessarily like Walmart, HEB stores are mostly well run, clean, full of friendly staff and offer good prices for the consumer. What's not to love about this place?
During our recent trip to visit our daughter and her husband in New Jersey (the southern part, close to the Penna state line), we were delighted to visit our very first Wegmans ever.  Wegmans is chain found in most of the northeastern states from Massachusetts and New York, down through New Jersey and Pennsylvania to Maryland and Virginia. 
I don't know if it is something about that area in particular, but as soon as we walked in the door, everything I love about HEB seemed to fall by the wayside.  HEB's are for the most part, very wide open and bright.  Walking into the Wegmans, I felt like I was walking into an upscale mall of freshly made baked goods, deli items and desserts.  Of course, our HEB Plus has all these things, but the atmosphere and presentation was just a bit more upscale.  I actually wondered if we were under dressed in our jeans, but of course, we weren't.
Not to say the place is uppity or anything.  As we walked up and down the aisles just looking more than shopping, I noticed the same products that we might find in Texas with an HEB brand on them having instead a Wegmans logo.  
Unfortunately, most of my pictures were too crappy, even for me to post, just due to the lighting and such.  My daughter cautioned me that the Wegmans people frown upon photos in the store, perhaps so competitors won't steal a particular display arrangement.  But what I can show you, taken discretely from my iPhone as if I were some secret agent casually walking by the Asian food section to make a dead drop in the General Tso chicken, is food pictures.
And there is this.  They have an entire liquor store connected to the food store.  You know how different states have different laws for the who, what, when, and where of liquor sales.  Here, they just put up a sign making it technically a different store, and all is good. 

Anyway, there you have it.  Wegmans.  Perhaps in one of my future travels I'll post about the exotic findings at the Albertson's or a Food Lion near you.  As you can see, it doesn't take much to entertain me.


Stacia said...

I have never been to a Wegmans! PA is one of those states that you can't buy liquor in stores like this, but they are slowly getting around to it.

Makes me want to go grocery shopping now!

Have a great weekend!!

MsBelinda said...

Learned something new today. Had never even heard of Wegmans before.

They look upscale and nice. How are the prices in comparison to our HEB?

Dave said...

@Stacia: Get over there! The pizza was good.

@MsBelinda: How are the prices in comparison to our HEB? I honestly didn't really buy anything that I could make a good comparison. We did buy some local beer that seemed reasonable, but nothing really stood out as way cheap or incredibly over priced compared to HEB.

Anonymous said...

I tried to get lost in the place so I could just wander aimlessly about but My daughter kept finding me by the salad bar and than the bakery What wonderful smells :) ..

Kurt Becker said...

Having grown up near many Wegmans in upstate NY, and now being in Texas for 15 years I can tell you; these two stores are worlds apart. Wegmans is in a league of its own and HEBs are the grocery stores of the 80s (and in some cases 70s).

From the displays, signage, and overall experience its obvious Wegmans carefully plans and is thoughtful about their approach to grocery shopping. HEB is just a big boring box of colors that depict different departments. Pricing isn't that different and I would happily pay an extra 2 or 3 percent to have a better experience and FAR more choices.

Dave said...

Pricing isn't that different and I would happily pay an extra 2 or 3 percent to have a better experience and FAR more choices.

I agree, but I think they (HEB)have figured out through sales and research that most people don't share our enthusiasm.

I noticed 10 or 12 years ago when they tried the Market Place concept, it took all of about a year before all the extra special items that made that store unique had simply gone away.

There is always Trader Joe's!