Retailers Fear ‘W’ Coming to Town
By George Anderson
Its name starts with ‘W’ and competitors know that when it comes to town, everything changes. Bright expansive stores and a reputation that precedes it means that whenever the chain opens a new unit, consumers are going to drive miles beyond where they normally shop just so they can checkout what all the buzz is about.
No, it’s not Wal-Mart; it’s Wegmans.
The chain has continued its southward push from its Rochester, NY home territory with its newest store to open October in Hunt Valley, MD, reports the Baltimore Business Journal.
With Wegmans coming to town, existing businesses are remodeling and looking to improve product offering and service to compete.
Santoni’s Marketplace and Catering Co. is finishing up a $1.5 million expansion and remodel. Giant Foods has remodeled and expanded its fresh produce area. Super Fresh has expanded its fresh bakery and organic foods sections. Safeway has remodeled its local stores as part of its national lifestyle store initiative.
According to the publisher of Food World, Jeff Metzger, Wegmans’ new store should generate more than $1.5 million in sales on a weekly basis. As a point of comparison, Super Fresh and Giant do about $600,000 in sales.
“Wegmans”, said Mr. Metzger, “has made shopping exciting and that’s an intangible in their favor.”
To compete against Wegmans, David J. Goggin III, president of KPI Business Brokers & Consultants, said others will need to keep their service levels high.
Lou Santoni, co-owner of Santoni’s marketplace, began preparing for Wegmans’ entry into the market two years.
“We’re not putting our head in the sand,” he said.
Mr. Santoni’s company has focused on offering many of the same products sold at Wegmens in its bakery, deli, product and organic food areas. The company has also added four new chefs and a cake decorator and brought in a pro to build its catering business.
The difference between his store and Wegmans, Mr. Santoni hopes consumers will see, is simply size. He’s counting on customers realizing they can get what they need at his store without having to traverse the 140,000 square-foot Wegmans. Mr. Santoni’s store measures 24,000 square-feet.
Moderator’s Comment: What does it take to compete successfully against Wegmans when the consumer target market is the same? –
George Anderson – Moderator