It's finally here!! The new East Avenue Wegmans that opened yesterday is twice as big as the one the company tore down. Yet, at 86,900 square feet, it’s still the smallest in the Rochester area.
And that’s the point. Wegmans wanted to enlarge and modernize the store without losing the community feel that the smaller building engendered (the Pittsford Plaza flagship store is 140,000 feet).
The East Ave. store is the only one within the city of Rochester, and it caters to a different crowd than the suburban stores.
This is a clientele that speaks its mind. “We didn’t have to do surveys,” Wegmans spokesperson Jo Natale said of its customers. “This is a vocal group.”
Natale said that is also the case with the employees there, many of whom live closer to the store.
“We are thrilled to death, you can’t imagine,” said Jeannette Kernan, a 15-year Wegmans employee who has worked at East Ave. the past nine years. During the interim, Kernan worked at the Holt Road Wegmans but came back to East Avenue three weeks ago to begin stocking the Nature’s Marketplace department.
With more prepared foods and check-out counters, Wegmans added jobs. The new store employs 625, 150 more than the old one.
Wegmans expects to start recouping its investment on opening days. Officials have said a newly renovated store often makes more in a day than it did in a week when it reopens. That eventually levels off.
Yet they have said the $40 million investment was needed in a market where competition is growing with Super Walmarts, Trader Joe’s and the announcement on Wednesday of the first Costco in the market.