Tag Archives: wegmans

Trader Joe’s in a Wegmans World

8 Jan

Trader Joe’s is coming to that huge shopping center in Amherst on Niagara Falls Boulevard where everything new to WNY always goes. Best Buy, Christmas Tree Shops, Carrabba’s, Panera Bread, and Chipotle all help to make that place impossible to navigate.  It will be located near Barnes & Noble and Famous Footwear. 

Trader Joe’s started in California as a convenience store competitor to 7-11. To differentiate its stores from the national chain’s, it adopted a South Seas motif and started selling specialty items. 

Two brothers, Theo and Karl Albrecht, created the discount supermarket chain “Aldi” in West Germany after WW2, and were instrumental in its European – and later worldwide – expansion.  Theo and Karl had a disagreement in the 1960s over selling cigarettes, so they split Aldi geographically in Germany, with Theo running Aldi Nord.  In 1979, a family trust of which Theo was a member bought – and still owns – Trader Joe’s.  And if you think about it, Trader Joe’s is Aldi with better frozen foods, higher quality groceries, and a cute concept.

I saw lots of commentary yesterday about how we don’t need Trader Joe’s because we’re so blessed to have Wegmans, the best grocery store in the universe. Not taking away from Wegmans at all, but Trader Joe’s is different, just like Aldi is different. I don’t see Aldi struggling to make do in a Wegmans-heavy market; neither will TJ’s. 

Although Trader Joe’s won’t be able to sell wine in its New York stores, thanks to our idiotic, protectionist liquor laws, it sells a nice variety of craft beers, has a great coffee section, one of the best frozen sections you’ll ever see, fantastic chocolates, and plenty of healthy and organic items that are different or cheaper than what you’re used to.  It’s fun to browse around and check out the many good-quality, cheap private-label items they carry. 

I used to go to TJ’s all the time when I lived in Massachusetts and recently stopped in to the new location outside Rochester, which is coincidentally located in the shopping center immediately adjacent to the Wegmans mothership in Henrietta. I didn’t leave empty-handed. 

Welcome Trader Joe’s. We like good food and we like bargains. It would seem to me that you’re a perfect fit for WNY. My only question is – what took so long? 

Trader Joe's in a Wegmans World

8 Jan

Trader Joe’s is coming to that huge shopping center in Amherst on Niagara Falls Boulevard where everything new to WNY always goes. Best Buy, Christmas Tree Shops, Carrabba’s, Panera Bread, and Chipotle all help to make that place impossible to navigate.  It will be located near Barnes & Noble and Famous Footwear. 

Trader Joe’s started in California as a convenience store competitor to 7-11. To differentiate its stores from the national chain’s, it adopted a South Seas motif and started selling specialty items. 

Two brothers, Theo and Karl Albrecht, created the discount supermarket chain “Aldi” in West Germany after WW2, and was instrumental in its European – and later worldwide – expansion.  Theo and Karl had a disagreement in the 1960s over selling cigarettes, so they split Aldi geographically in Germany, with Theo running Aldi Nord.  In 1979, a family trust of which Theo was a member bought – and still owns – Trader Joe’s.  And if you think about it, Trader Joe’s is Aldi with better frozen foods, higher quality groceries, and a cute concept.

I saw lots of commentary yesterday about how we don’t need Trader Joe’s because we’re so blessed to have Wegmans, the best grocery store in the universe. Not taking away from Wegmans at all, but Trader Joe’s is different, just like Aldi is different. I don’t see Aldi struggling to make do in a Wegmans-heavy market; neither will TJ’s. 

Although Trader Joe’s won’t be able to sell wine in its New York stores, thanks to our idiotic, protectionist liquor laws, it sells a nice variety of craft beers, has a great coffee section, one of the best frozen sections you’ll ever see, fantastic chocolates, and plenty of healthy and organic items that are different or cheaper than what you’re used to.  It’s fun to browse around and check out the many good-quality, cheap private-label items they carry. 

I used to go to TJ’s all the time when I lived in Massachusetts and recently stopped in to the new location outside Rochester, which is coincidentally located in the shopping center immediately adjacent to the Wegmans mothership in Henrietta. I didn’t leave empty-handed. 

Welcome Trader Joe’s. We like good food and we like bargains. It would seem to me that you’re a perfect fit for WNY. My only question is – what took so long? 

Ralph Lorigo and the Conservative Party Endorsement (UPDATED)

16 Sep

It’s no secret that I detest New York’s archaic electoral fusion system, which enables platform-free, principle-free minor parties to exert undue influence on the political system.

In one of my recent posts about Clarence politics, I wrote this:

Conservative Party chairman Ralph Lorigo was personally, directly involved in the now-abandoned plan to build a large Wegmans’ on Transit Road in Clarence, just north of Transit Road. Lorigo represents local developers like Benderson, but in this case Lorigo owned the real estate proposed to be used for the Wegmans project, half of which was zoned residential. The process was followed, the people (directly, and by & through their elected representatives) spoke, and Wegmans won’t be building there – that’s democracy how it should work. In less ethical places, the wishes of the politically-well-connected owner or developer might have taken precedence over the wishes of the public. Apparently, because Clarence went against Mr. Lorigo’s personal pecuniary interests, he retaliated against Mr. Bylewski by refusing him the Conservative Party endorsement; ironic, since following the law and democratic process is what one might expect a doctrinaire conservative to support.

This goes back to my entreaties to abolish electoral fusion because it’s rife with corruption from corruptables, and has very little – if anything – to do with political ideology.

I wasn’t talking out of turn there, either. I’ve heard from several sources whom I consider to be beyond reproach that Lorigo was proudly proclaiming that he’d withhold the Conservative endorsement from Bylewski because Wegmans didn’t go through. Beyond. Reproach.

Color me intrigued when Mr. Lorigo sent me this email yesterday:

I know you and I are politically on opposite ends of the spectrum but you have your fact wrong about Clarence . First it was the town committee that made the recommendations for endorsements and it was Wegmans that withdrew in the face of neighborhood opposition .

What I’ve learned is that, in politics, there’s the reason something happens, and then there’s the real reason.  Lorigo has just lost his best friend on the Clarence Town Board – Joe Weiss, who was trounced at the polls on Tuesday and abruptly resigned on Thursday (effective the 28th).  The local committee’s recommendation is often, and routinely, overruled by the county committee.

I asked Bylewski for his reaction to Lorigo’s email, and he sent this along:

I did not receive the local endorsement.  However, the County Conservative Party has stepped in the past in our Town’s local elections to either give the endorsement to someone else or open the line for a Primary.  This was recently done in a local judicial contest where the local committee endorsed one candidate and the County endorsed another.  This year, the Town Board race was opened up for all three candidates.

I had called the Chairman multiple times to talk with him.  However, he never returned the courtesy of the call.  When I saw the Chairman at a Conservative fundraiser, I reminded him of my calls and that I thought it would be best to meet and clear the air.  He agreed that it was a good idea and would call me.  At that same fundraiser, other high level Conservatives indicated they were working on my behalf.  Well, unfortunately, I am still waiting for that call.

As to the Wegmans’ project, we, as a Town, on multiple occasions wanted to and expressed a desire to work with the applicants.  However, it appeared that the applicants were unwilling to reconfigure their project more than a few feet.  This inability presented us with a project that would not work based on our Master Plan and extensive efforts internally to amend the Master Plan.  We provided detail developed by a UB Planning professor as to how the project could work on the existing site.  The applicants still refused.

I would receive calls from the applicant an hour or two in advance of a Town Board meeting.  Even though I was busy preparing for other matters, I took those calls because I wanted the process to work.

Ultimately, the process did work and the Master Plan has been adhered to.

If the Conservative Party was about conservative values, it wouldn’t hesitate to endorse Bylewski – a hard-working consensus-builder who has kept spending and taxes down, worked hard to promote the town’s best interests, and has expertly, calmly navigated some of Clarence’s biggest crises and development issues. A competent, meritorious Democrat in a Republican town is jarring to people who can’t see beyond labels. His opponent, meanwhile, is busy lying to the voters, treating them like uneducated, illiterate morons.

That the “Conservative Party”, which in the same breath endorses same-sex marriage proponent Tim Kennedy, and then heaps scorn and derision on same-sex marriage proponent Mark Grisanti, exerts any control or influence over our electoral politics in WNY is truly one of the reasons why this region (and state) is so rife with pay-to-play petty corruption and patronage. The electoral fusion system is perpetuated by the dealmaking that leaves both parties happy – the minor party gets favors and jobs, and the elected officials get re-re-re-elected with their help. It breeds cronyism and a dirty system in which the interests of the populace-at-large is left by the wayside.

Frankly, I won’t be fully convinced of Governor Cuomo’s reformist bona fides until he takes this dirty system on.

Ralph Lorigo may think he’s on the opposite end of the political spectrum from me, but it’s not because I’m a liberal and he fancies himself a conservative.  Instead, it’s because I’m for competent, good, meritorious government and he (and his party) is (are) looking out for number one.

It’s. Enough. Already.

UPDATE: Wegmans statement

When Wegmans was interested in building a new store in Clarence, there were obstacles to us moving forward; while we worked to make progress towards that end, we discovered that a better option for us and our customers was to stay right where we were and expand the Wegmans at 8270 Transit Road instead.  We are still in the early phases of making that happen, but this is the direction that we are taking toward our goal of offering expanded service and products to our customers in that area.

Theresa Jackson, Consumer Affairs Manager, Wegmans Food Markets

Wegmans Pub. Please.

4 Feb

Wegmans – the company without which life in WNY would be unbearable – is operating a pub in a Pennsylvania store.

Quite obviously, this is something that we desperately need here in WNY. I mean, beer. So, when Wegmans tweeted about it, I suggested that we need one here. The response?

This is a law that needs to be changed. Why shouldn’t Wegmans have the ability to run a restaurant with a liquor license? It’s ridiculous.

So, I know you political types read this – How about we change this?

They Paved the Brownfield, Put up a Parking Lot

20 Jun

The Amherst Town Board has voted 5-2 to approve Benderson’s plan for a lifestyle center-type mixed-use development on the former site of the Amherst gun club on Maple near UB North. This project has been the subject of a NIMBY lawsuit which will hopefully be resolved shortly.

The lifestyle center will have offices, residential, hotel, and retail on 275,000 square feet near Millersport, the I-290, and UB North. These types of developments are popular throughout the country and the closest thing to it we have here is a couple of restaurants and shops at the Walden Galleria that you can access from an exterior sidewalk.

While I’m sure the urbanists are as aghast as the NIMBY folks, malls and plazas are Western New York’s main streets. At least with a lifestyle center, you get them outdoors and walking, rather than driving from the BJs on one end of the plaza to the Wal*Mart at the other end.

So yes, I believe that the replacement of a leaden brownfield that used to be a shooting club with an upscale mixed-use development is a great idea.

And while I’m on the subject of NIMBYism, let me bring up one point with regards to the proposed Wegmans in Clarence near Roll on Transit.

If the parcel fronting Transit is zoned “major arterial” but too small to actually accommodate a major arterial project like a Wegmans supermarket, then it makes sense to change the Master Plan from time to time in order to make necessary accommodations. Like I said before, you don’t move into a house from which you can see Transit Road and then complain that Transit Road is going to have big projects on it.

In other words, build them both.

Clarence First & the Wegmans Proposal at Roll & Transit

7 Jun

I have read the concerns of the Clarence First group and have the following comments:

1. The Clarence Master Plan shows the entirety of Transit Road as being “commercial” use. More specifically, at its drafting in 2000, the area bordering Transit Road is zoned as “major arterial”. The area behind that, where Wegmans wants to go, is shown as “agricultural”. The Master Plan would change that to “residential”, except Transit in Swormville, north of County Road, would be “mixed use”. At Roll & Transit, white is “residential”, and pink is “commercial”:

The Master Plan proposes that the areas around Roll & Transit be zoned as “arterial” (purple), and the neighborhoods bounding it are “low density residential” (yellow):

The problem here isn’t the area fronting Transit Road – it’s the area between the Highland Farms subdivision and the properties fronting Transit. That’s the “Section B” that Wegmans wants re-zoned.

The Clarence First website doesn’t cite any specific portion of the Master Plan that would prohibit this project, but instead quotes vague principles espoused within the Master Plan, such as:

striving to maintain the rural character of these roadways, outside of hamlet and subdivisions

That passage has nothing to do with Transit Road, but may be applicable to Roll. The passage in the Master Plan from which this passage is taken deals with the subdivisions in and around Clarence Center, and that these 2,000 new homes have impacted traffic volume along these rural feeder roads. The Master Plan requires that they maintain their rural character, regardless of any future updates to them. Clarence First omitted the parenthetical that immediately follows that passage:

(no sidewalks, curbs etc. outside of developed areas).

In any event, the Wegmans plan doesn’t make any update or upgrade to Roll Road – it merely includes a feeder driveway to the store off Roll. There’s nothing rural about that particular part of town. Although a few of the properties in question would have to be re-zoned, it doesn’t change the fact that a Wegmans at that location does not fundamentally violate the land use envisioned for almost all of the Transit Road corridor – that of “major arterial”.

2. There is a genuine and real concern about the fact that Transit Middle School is directly across the street from the proposed Wegmans. Although a traffic signal is planned, that doesn’t provide adequate protection for kids who cross Transit from the neighborhoods in Clarence to attend the Middle School. Therefore, as a condition to approval and zoning changes, Wegmans should be required to construct a pedestrian bridge to enable children and other pedestrians to cross Transit Road without interacting in any way with the traffic below. And no, it doesn’t have to be ugly.

3. The homes in question are within spitting distance of Transit Road, and have been very fortunate indeed that no major construction has taken place on the adjacent parcels fronting that busy street. Callous as the “coming to the nuisance” doctrine may seem, you don’t move next to the airport and complain about the jet noise, so you don’t move near Transit Road and complain about big box stores and congestion. Wegmans should obviously take extraordinary measures to ensure that the buffer between it and the adjacent subdivision is adequate so as to minimize the affect the new store will have on these properties. The buffer width might need to be expanded.

4. I’m not convinced that a Wegmans will have all that bad an effect on surrounding neighborhoods. Frankly, I’d love to be walking distance from a grocery store, and the Williamsville School District isn’t exactly poorly regarded. Whatever value those homes would lose due to their proximity to the Transit Road corridor is probably de minimis, if not already factored into the equation.

None of this is meant as an attack on the genuinely concerned residents living in the immediate area, and in anticipation of some criticism, no, Wegmans has not paid me or otherwise remunerated or rewarded me for writing this post. I’m just a regular shopper who frequents the existing Transit Road store, and would like it expanded to resemble the “big” Wegmans on Sheridan.

Both sides of the issue are encouraged to attend the Town Board Meeting at Clarence Town Hall on June 10th at 7:30 pm.

Transit Wegmans Parcel

31 May

I saw and snapped this at the Transit Rd. Wegmans in East Amherst (or Williamsville or whatever it is over there) today.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Following up on this post, the Clarence Town Board will be taking this up at its June 10th meeting.

In Clarence, Wegmans Lobbies You

28 May

I came home yesterday to find a large envelope from Wegmans. In it was a very slick mailer with a business reply card informing me that Wegmans wants to close its existing Transit Road store in East Amherst and move it further north on Transit on the Clarence side of the street. The proposed new store will be 140k square feet and have all the fancy amenities that the mega Weggies in Hamburg and on Sheridan have. Yes, an expanded prepared foods section would be quite welcome, thx.

Wegmans plans to bring its proposal to the Town Board on June 10th, and this is the first I’ve heard of it. It’s an interesting way for the company to get its side of the story out preemptively to the community-at-large, and one I’ve never seen before in town.

Photos of the mailers are after the jump. Continue reading

Wegmans Repeats On Fortune Magazine Best Company List

22 Jan

wegmans_755069.jpg

In Fortune Magazine’s annual ranking of the “100 Best Companies To Work For” list, local grocery chain Wegmans again finished near the top of the list. The 2008 list places Wegmans as the third best company to work for in America. This follows their #1 ranking in 2005 and their second place ranking in 2006. Wegmans has appeared on the list every year since its initial publication in 1998 and has ranked among the top 10 for six consecutive years.

“Every one of our employees and our customers should stand up and take a bow, because together they make Wegmans a special place,” says CEO Danny Wegman. Whenever I’m in one of our stores, customers stop to tell me how much they appreciate our employees. You can imagine how great that makes our people feel and why they enjoy coming to work everyday.”

The company, headquartered in Rochester with stores throughout the Northeast, employs 37,602 workers which was a near 6% increase over last year.

Founded in 1916, Wegmans has prioritized quality employee relationships as a driver for growth and customer loyalty. Company founder Robert Wegman once said that “Great customer service begins with treating our own employees right. If our people feel valued and supported, they will give their best to our customers.” This mantra is repeated by many of their employees as demonstrated in this video from CNNMoney.

According to the survey, the most common job for salaried employees was Store Department Manager with an average salary of $49,411 and the most common job for hourly employees was customer service with an average salary of $27,414.