Though I’m not averse to trying something new and do occasionally divert, I’m largely a brand loyalist whose grocery store of preference is Wegman’s, an East Coast US chain still owned by the family that started it all years ago in Rochester, NY. I began shopping at Wegman’s where we used to live and was near delirious with joy when it followed us here to Central Pennsylvania. (Okay, it didn’t exactly follow us…)
Wegman’s has evolved over the years, as any good business should. Sometimes I like the changes, sometimes not. All in all, the quality and service have remained superb. But here’s the rub… Wegman’s moves things around. A lot. Which means that as soon as you get completely comfortable with where the Irish oatmeal is, it’s gone to some other shelf, in some other part of the store.
I’ve learned to live with the occasional repositioning, which is admittedly a silly first world problem. But guess what? Hubby came back from a recent late night grocery run to report that change was sweeping through nearly the entire store, aisle by aisle, shelf by shelf, was being reorganized, and was in fact in total chaos. It was no surprise that he came home with only the bare essentials.
I had to see for myself, of course, and have continued to visit every few days to note the progress. On my first two visits, the store was in such a state of discombobulation that I felt like I’d been caught in a corn maze. Wegman’s, noted for customer service, has taken every possible step to minimize the “temporary inconvenience.” There were handwritten way finding signs throughout the store–handwritten of necessity since this has been a highly fluid situation, with some sections moving more than once to fulfill the mysterious grand plan. The reorganization workers are well-trained to recognize the blank stare of a lost shopper and guide bewildered customers quickly to even the most obscure products (Irish oatmeal, anyone?).
With each trip (I think we’re in the third week now), I’ve been able to note the progress and see a hint of method to the madness. I was near delirious with joy when I realized that in one newly stocked area, I could actually reach the top shelf with ease. Definitely a cause for cautious optimism.
Rumor has it that the reorganization will move beer and wine—a relatively new but obviously profitable addition to Pennsylvania supermarkets—to the center of the store and eliminate the dedicated organic section, moving all of those products to mainstream shelves. Wegman’s has actually been doing this gradual integration for the last few years, as demand for organics grew and its own organic label became more available. At this point, I it doesn’t seem that there will be any changes to the produce, bakery, meat and fish departments, deli, or dairy. But we will soon see. Meanwhile, it’s given us something to whine about while we’re getting our hair done.