Wegmans, an East Coast supermarket chain, has achieved a fan following that would make even Kylie Jenner jealous. In fact, loyal customers rank Wegmans first in brand reputation, putting the retailer ahead of much-loved companies like Amazon and Walt Disney, according to an Axios Harris Poll. It was named Americans’ favorite grocery store three years in a row, per Market Force Information. That’s not too shabby for a company that only has 101 locations in seven states (via Wegmans).
What inspires such devotion to this family-owned business that first opened its doors in Rochester, N.Y., in 1916? It could be the easy-to-grab, take-home meals (some even developed with the help of celebrity chef David Bouley), the selection of cheeses from around the world, or simply the competitive prices on everyday products. Our guess? It’s probably all of the above, plus a few surprising things the supermarket does to satisfy Wegmaniacs. (Yes, that’s a thing.)
The customer is (almost) always right
Sure, you’ve heard the old saying a million times, but Wegmans seems to truly take it to heart. When customers have a complaint, the store’s management will do almost anything to make sure the shopper leaves happy. “At least at the store I worked at, management didn’t want anybody leaving the customer service desk or store upset,” one former Wegmans employee of five years told Business Insider. “So nine times out of 10, we gave people whatever they wanted.” There was just one exception: People with “a track record of scamming or policy abuse” were not given the benefit of the doubt.
Wegmans also goes the extra mile to ensure your overall shopping trip is a positive one. Let’s face it, food shopping isn’t top on most people’s list of their favorite things to do. With or without kids in tow, it can be time-consuming and tedious due to crowds, long lines, and heavy bags to lug home and unpack. But Wegmans makes the trip sweeter: “Every employee is focused on the customer and ready to serve with a genuine joy that just seems to be unique to the Wegmans family,” shopper Cheri McDonald told Business Insider. And if you’re struggling with your bags, “they have a whole team of ‘helping hands’ that will help you load your car or push your cart, if you’re unable to do so,” said long-time shopper Elizabeth Sile.
It may be easier to get into Harvard than work at Wegmans
Yes, you read that right. When a new store opened in Pennsylvania, it received roughly 10,000 applications for 500 job openings, reported the Philadelphia Business Journal. That works out to a 5 percent acceptance rate. Even Harvard took closer to 6 percent of its applicants that same year. “All of our new store openings see applicants in the thousands,” said Jo Natale, Wegmans’ director of media relations.
But there’s a good reason so many job seekers look to Wegmans. The store has committed $50 million to employee development, helping them receive increased training and work their way into management, reports Fortune. And Wegmans is one of the only supermarkets to offer tuition assistance, setting aside $5 million to help employees’ further their education. That translates to a better customer experience, since employees truly love working for the company.
The store has its own cheese caves
If you’re a cheese lover (and really, who isn’t? It’s even sometimes good for you), don’t skip this section. The Wegmans’ cheese selection boasts 300 varieties and rivals some of the country’s finest fromageries. Why is it so good? Because the store opened its own climate-controlled cheese caves back in 2014, and styled them after those found in Europe, reports Money Inc. There’s even a room dedicated just for Brie. “Our customers will get a cheese that’s absolutely perfect, with the taste and texture they prefer, every time,” said Cathy Gaffney, who oversees cheese for Wegmans (via Kiplinger). Unfortunately, if you’re looking to pair a great glass of Cabernet with your favorite cheese, the store axed its wine vending machines years ago, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Ready to declare yourself a Wegmaniac? Yeah, it’s still a little odd, but clearly the store is doing something right.
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