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Boston grocery competition about to get interesting

Wegmans is looking at opening a store in the city of Boston, expanding from its current store way out in the suburbs in Northborough and existing plans for three other Massachusetts stores in Burlington, Westwood, and Chestnut Hill.

If you don’t know Wegmans and you’re a foodie, you need to visit one.  Most of their stores are massive — the one in Northborough in 138,000 square feet, the largest supermarket in Massachusetts and rivaling the size of many Walmarts, but just for food. 

A large portion of their stores are dedicated to service counters, offering everything from wings to sushi to cakes to bread to a Chinese food buffet, including dim sum.  It’s an amazing and tempting assortment of food.  What’s typically referred to as “center store” is almost an afterthought and never really quite sits in the center of the store but rather off to the side.

I lived in a Wegmans town (Ithaca) while in business school.  When I graduated and moved here to Boston, I was surprised there was no store that matched the quality and size of a Wegmans.  I guess someone at Wegmans HQ in Rochester noticed the same thing.

They have traditionally operated stores in Central New York and other places accessible from that region.  Over time, they have expanded into Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and then to the Baltimore/Washington DC market.  After opening only 3 stores in the DC area, they became the #5 supermarket in terms of share.  That scared the heck out of their local competition.  And as they opened more stores, they grew — and drew shoppers from a radius of up to 20 miles, compared to a typical radius of only 2-3 miles.

Watch out, Boston supermarkets.

Boston Globe: Wegmans sets goal to open in Boston (via Universal Hub)

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