Wegmans opens in New York City, and it really is a big deal. But critics say we are going backwards, bringing upstate car culture to unprepared urban streets.
There’s more to Wegmans opening in the Brooklyn Navy Yard than greater variety and more inventory. There’s cars feeding a shared 700 spot parking lot, and the lot must be fed.
My first dive into Wegmans mania happened in Buffalo, back in the ’80s. Moving to New York City was still a dream, then.
Thanks to our reader Sylvain Klein for the tip!
In Buffalo, we already had Tops and Super Duper, but Wegmans landed with a reputation. Their stores, migrating west from Rochester, were bigger and better.
The giant size was a draw as were the well-organized rows of inventory exceeding what we had before.
The cashiers were friendlier, and they moved faster. Consistently rated one of the country’s best employers, Wegmans paid their help better too.
We were committed to car culture and the huge parking lots, including helpful employees fetching carts and offering to help carry groceries to your trunk, were a plus.
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Wegmans Opens in New York City, but…
…Are we going backwards to someplace we’ve never been?
New York City’s never been friendly to car culture. Pollution and congestion concerns weigh against adding autos to population density already hard to manage.
Clogged streets impeding mass transit are at war with urban planners who recently shutdown 14th Street to cars and slapped congestion pricing on drivers.
So, where’s the sense in opening a car thirsty Wegmans in New York City?
Some, including STREETSBLOG and Gothamist, expect the worst, and they’ve already pushed out the best new terms for what’s to come.
“We went via ferry,” our reader Sylvain Klein reports, but that sounds more like tourism than shopping.
And it was a reminder.
Years passed, and Wegmans needed to top itself to fend off imitative competitors.
When a job change sent us back upstate — to Rochester, Wegmans’s hometown — in the late ’90s, the chain was still opening eyes.
The quality was the same, but the size was even bigger.
Before the turn of the 21st Century, Wegmans opened a suburban store in Pittsford that was so impressive, it attracted tour buses.
No kidding. Driving home from work in Bushnell’s Basin, I saw them lined up in front of the two-story market.
Wegman’s opens in New York City, but it’s not the same as expanding in an area already committed to masses of cars and with enough land to build lots for them.
Finally, I’m still trying to figure out why Wegmans decided to open in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard. You can’t find a place more distant from mass transit, save NYC Ferry, which means they depend vitally on folks willing to drive through traffic jams to save 10 cents on a pound of olives.
Where’s the sense in that?