High Schoolers Sing Wegmans Praises

Discussion
May 25, 2012

Okay, so there’s no doubt that Wegmans got some buzz when Alec Baldwin discussed his mother’s refusal to move from upstate New York because of her love for the supermarket chain on the Late Show with David Letterman. The actor and his mom later went on to film a commercial for the grocer as a direct result of his story.

But when it comes to a dramatic expression of love for the grocery chain, nothing tops Wegmans… The Musical.

525,600 square feet
525,000 cases of beer
525,600 square feet
How do you measure the variety here?
In cheeses, in produce, in baked goods…

(To the tune of "Seasons for Love" from the musical, Rent)

A group of teenagers from the advanced drama class at Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough, MA recently put on a production paying homage to the chain.

[Image: Wegmans …The Musical!]

Maura Morrison, the drama teacher at Algonquin, hadn’t shopped in a Wegmans when discussions about the production began to take shape. "I was really kind of immune to the whole Wegmans thing," she told WCVB.

"We tried to be realistic but at the same time we blew it up to be something a lot bigger than it is," Stephen Tzianabos, a member of the cast, told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. "We’ve made Wegmans the Land of Oz or Disneyland, and everyone that works there is happy."

The chain was pleased to hear of the students’ project and donated props such as store signs and shirts for the show. Of course, it also catered the after show party.

Earlier this week, Wegmans presented a one-time scholarship of $1000 to the school.

"The students did such a fantastic job of learning about our company, observing what we do, and then telling the story on stage. We wanted them to know that we appreciate their hard work and are honored that they chose us as their subject," said Bill Congdon, Wegmans’ New England division manager.

Discussion Questions: What inspires shoppers at Wegmans to become such fans of the chain? Why is it that so many others that sell essentially the same products and offer similar services do not have the same connection with their customers?

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10 Comments on "High Schoolers Sing Wegmans Praises"

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Ken Lonyai
BrainTrust

It’s very hard to gauge how authentic the Wegmans’ love is from this musical. There’s a good chance that it was a quirky idea that caught fire at the school and Wegmans happened to be the lucky recipient at the center. From personal experience with the stores, I haven’t found anything they do more special than other contemporary grocers like Whole Foods.

Still there’s a lesson for the more mundane grocery chains and other stores out there: the customer as advocate is a powerful tool that can’t be bought. Focus on servicing customers authentically and unknown dividends have much more potential to be reaped.

Max Goldberg
BrainTrust

Being from an area (Southern California) without Wegmans, it was hard to understand the hoopla. Then, a few weeks ago, on a cross-country trip, my wife and I stopped into a Wegmans in Northern Virginia. We were impressed. I can see why customers sing Wegmans’ praises. Los Angeles is probably the most competitive grocery market in the US, but we don’t have anything, with the exception of the Whole Foods in Pasadena, that compares with the Wegmans we visited.

Tony Orlando
BrainTrust

Wegmans really makes an effort to connect with their customers, and doesn’t play the Walmart game. Premium products, well placed stores in high income areas, and outstanding employees will make you a success every time. It is nice to see an article that isn’t singing the praises of the big chains.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

Wegmans has a secret — it recognizes that its employees, customers and vendors are human beings and treats them accordingly.

Don’t worry about passing on the secret. Most of the industry wouldn’t believe it anyway.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
5 years 1 month ago

Wegmans has developed a great mousetrap and people, old, young and impressionable, are inspired by inventors of great mousetraps. This gift of Wegmans has made these the halcyon days for the Rochester, NY retailer and it’s understandable that appreciative music has followed.

Connections with customers are created by pleasurable feelings. It seems that half the shortcomings in food retailing arise from thinking when you ought to feel, and feeling when you ought to think. Wegmans doesn’t frequently make that mistake as they are well tuned into their customers … but that $1,000 scholarship should have been larger.

dennis syracuse
Guest
dennis syracuse
5 years 1 month ago

I grew up in Rochester, NY, so Weggies was always a favorite. I now live where there are no Wegmans and when I go home for the holidays, I always make several trips to Wegmans, even if it is to just pick up the NYT. Why? They have made it home — you feel like you are cared for, thought about and its a happy place. As sappy as it sounds, you feel like you are visiting your grandmothers house. Wegmans has been able to create the sense of tradition, the sense of family and of always being able to be depended upon. Bravo to them and their wonderful employees who make it all happen every hour of every day!

Nancy Adams
Guest
Nancy Adams
5 years 1 month ago
I too grew up in Rochester and actually used to work for Wegmans in high school and college summers. When I moved to NJ in 1989, I wrote to them to tell them they had a huge growth opportunity in NJ where high income and awful stores were everywhere. Pathmark has now closed many of their stores mostly due to lousy customer service and unclean stores. Wegmans could’ve taken over around here. 7 years later in 1996 I contacted them again about moving into a flea market site between Millburn, Maplewood and Union; but they were just coming to NJ for the first time in Princeton and then Bridgewater. Every time I go to the huge Home Depot in that location, I get sad that the closest Wegmans to me is Bridgewater, 45 minutes away. Bob Wegman really never wanted to grow outside of Rochester, but after growing the hometown stores, expanding them etc, they grew to Syracuse and Buffalo and Binghamton. Once his son Danny took over, the growth out of state sped up and now they’re continuing their growing. While they get picketed all over for not hiring union workers, they have always treated their employees well, offering… Read more »
Joe Nassour
Guest
Joe Nassour
5 years 1 month ago

Priceless branding.

Dennis Serbu
Guest
Dennis Serbu
5 years 1 month ago

I have done category reviews at Wegmans, but quite simply, I don’t go there to recommend. I go there to learn. These folks are Grocers.

Kai Clarke
BrainTrust

Great PR! Wegmans is smart, community focused, and they are recognizing what the consumer wants, in each of the communities that they sell to. This will translate to greater sales, and profits for Wegmans.

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