Specialty Grocer (and Cult Favorite) Wegmans Dazzles with its Manhattan Debut
Wegmans opened its first Manhattan store to much fanfare from the island’s residents late this fall. The 87,500 square foot store, located at Astor Place in the former Kmart space, offers robust grab-and-go options alongside a traditional grocery assortment. The store will soon feature a sushi restaurant and champagne-oyster bar – both set to open in early 2024.
What You’ll Find at Wegmans’ Manhattan Store
The Astor Place location is Wegmans’ second outpost in New York City, with the first location opening in Brooklyn in 2019. The latest Manhattan format occupies two levels and features a vast array of prepared foods on the ground floor and groceries on the lower level.
Will Wegmans Win Manhattan?
Wegmans’ entrance to Manhattan was met with much fanfare from New Yorkers, with many queueing in the early hours of the morning on the store’s opening day. The warm welcome from New York City’s residents is far from an isolated incident. Wegmans has consistently strong ratings for customer satisfaction, frequently ranking tops in customer surveys alongside other regional supermarket favorites like H-E-B. The same goes for Wegmans’ employees – Wegmans is ranked fourth on Fortune’s Best Companies to Work For List and has remained on the list since its inaugural issuance in 1998.
In addition to excellent customer service, the strong emphasis on prepared food is well suited for success in the local area. With New York University’s main campus nearby, the variety in both type and cuisine of its prepared foods has already made waves with the nearby college crowd. The appeal exists for New York City’s residents, too, many of whom regularly pick up prepared foods when faced with tiny kitchens at home.
Wegmans bringing their traditional format – a historically suburban shopping experience – to New York City poses some unique considerations for the chain. Grocery shopping behaviors in New York City residents, unlike their suburban counterparts, consist of smaller basket sizes and more frequent trips, as many utilize public transit or travel on foot to pick up weekly groceries. Thus, many rely on local grocery stores, bodegas, and nearby chains to stock up on essentials.
While Wegmans is well-positioned to serve its nearby community, including New York University, what remains to be seen is if it becomes a “destination” for customers outside the striking distance of nearby neighborhoods. The brand has several indicators of future success that may enable the chain to join the ranks of other culinary havens in Manhattan like Eataly and Citarella:
- Strong brand equity and customer service—the store is organized, well run, and shelves remain stocked with quality product. The location offers maps in-store to support wayfinding – a challenge particularly relevant to competitors who have similar grocery offerings on the lower level.
- A deep selection of specialty and premium products—especially across meat, seafood, cheese. In addition to specialty products, the store is outfitted to service a full, traditional grocery shop.
- A robust assortment of quality prepared foods—incorporating international flavors and a variety of options to cater to the variety of tastes and preferences in the NYC community.
- Value-driven private label products—serving a top-of-mind need for budget-minded consumers.
Wegmans has been on a growth path – with this latest milestone location in Manhattan no doubt providing an exciting illustration of more to come from the chain.
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