Wegmans, the 103-year-old grocery chain that has a rabid following, opened its highly anticipated first New York City store on Sunday.
The 74,000-square-foot location, which was first announced in 2015, is located in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Wegmans is the buzziest part of the former military base on the East River that’s currently undergoing a billion-dollar renovation with new offices and retail space.
Sunday’s grand opening reportedly drew long lines of thousands of fans, according to multiple news reports. The grocery store has developed a fanatical following for its affordable prices and high-quality food. Wegmans said its Brooklyn store sells nearly 50,000 items, 2,000 of which are organic.
Besides the usual array of grocery food, the new Wegmans is a destination in itself. The location has several seating areas for people to eat fresh pizza, sushi and from assorted food bars. There’s also a cocktail bar and coffee shop.
A “vast majority” of the nearly 600 employees were hired locally, the company previously said. The Brooklyn location is its 101st store; its other locations are primarily on the east coast, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and upstate New York.
The privately held company is slowly expanding in the brutally competitive $830 billion grocery sector.
Competition is heating up, as dollar stores and drugstores are selling more groceries, several chains have recently gone bankrupt, and Amazon, which owns Whole Foods, plans to soon open a new grocery store chain. There are also two Whole Foods locations and two Trader Joe’s stores within two miles of the new Wegmans location in Brooklyn.
But there have been success stories, including Aldi. The no-frills German discount grocery chain is growing aggressively across the US and, like Wegmans, has attracted a fervent following. It’s on track to become America’s third largest supermarket chain behind Walmart and Kroger, with 2,500 stores by the end of 2022.