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The Wegmans Effect

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There’s a steeple atop each Wegmans store, and I’m convinced that it’s not simply for decoration-. The place is a mega-church in its own right, establishing euphoric congregations of shoppers wherever it breaks fresh ground—which seems to be everywhere these days. 

Other so-called supermarkets really can’t hold a candle. They’re the sideshow to Wegmans’ main event,  when the real shopping gets done. Under this not-so-awful weekly mandate, we desperately try to escape without bountiful extraneous purchases. “Would you like sample the new Icelandic yogurt?” But, of course. 

In-and-out trips are nearly impossible at this cathedral of consumables. And its smitten masses fall into a number of categories, all linked by the unending allure of this otherworldly culinary marketplace posing as a grocery store. 

Bachelors. They gravitate toward the sushi and mix-and-match meals before grabbing a six-pack and a half-gallon of milk. 

Super moms. Their shopping trips are a lesson in suburban shock and awe, with SUVs in standby mode and babies strapped to chests in carrier pouches. Meanwhile, the little ones who can walk trot along, entertained by fully charged iPads, and the older kids trail behind, texting. Once the troops are in position, it’s time to strategize with the Wegmans app. Friday nights, SMs often can be found in the organic section, engaged in impromptu meetings with their wine groups. 

Top chefs. These Giadas in training are all about preparing a multicourse gourmet meal—on a Tuesday. Think bay leaves, chili flakes, European butter and mascarpone. Or you might find them lingering in the cheese section, trying to visualize that evening’s charcuterie board. 

Produce hounds. They’re after the sexiest of the harvest, and don’t expect them to exercise discretion. Giving an avocado a squeeze to gauge ripeness is smart shopping. Caressing a cantaloupe like you’re headed to second base is just plain creepy. Avert your eyes, kids.

 

Katie Bambi Kohler can be found in the magazine section at Wegmans—either in print form or marveling at the selection. Visit her website at www.katiekohler.com

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