Wegmansmania: Bigger than the Beatles?

The Wall Street Journal: “Across the U.S., grand openings of specialty grocery chains such as Whole Foods Market, Stew Leonard’s and Wegmans Food Markets Inc. are attracting customer hordes … By 7 a.m., roughly 2,000 people had swarmed a shopping center in Hanover, N.J., to mark the arrival one Sunday this summer of a Wegmans and its exotic cheeses and hen-of-the-woods mushrooms.” Robin W. Dente, community-affairs coordinator for the township comments: “It reminded me of when the Beatles came to America.”

“Wegmans, which has drawn lines of loyal ‘Wegmaniacs’ to opening days since at least the 1950s, doesn’t give out freebies to woo shoppers at dawn, according to the company.” However: “As part of its multibillion-dollar expansion, the German discount grocer Aldi Inc. is running multiday openings with tastings of chocolate truffles and imported brie—and a chance to win produce for a year.” Meanwhile: Stew Leonard’s, a Connecticut-based chain known for holding Christie Brinkley wine tastings and other celebrity events, has dialed down a bit.”

“Before it entered Long Island last year, it hit local media and attended a village pumpkin festival and other events, handing out 100,000 $5-off coupons. Then, more than 20,000 people showed up at its Farmingdale store the first day, and the crush clogged the aisles … The company reassessed its approach. For the debut of a second Long Island store in August, it invited local politicians for a party but kept the grand opening pared down, said Stew Leonard Jr., the chain’s CEO,” who says: “We’ve gone from a thunder to a rain philosophy.”

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