Send My Regrets To Wegmans
Got home last night, glanced at my phone and saw an invite waiting for me on Facebook.
I love invitations.
Seems several of my closest friends want me to join them and about 5,000 others at - get this - the grand opening of Wegmans on April 28th in Virginia Beach.
A freaking supermarket.
Sorry, friends. I’d rather stick needles in my eyes.
Yes, I know. Wegmans has a cult-like following. People swoon over the chain, insisting it’s the Biltmore of baked goods. The Louvre of larders. The Versailles of victuals.
According to a 2017 piece in Thrillist, devotees of this small supermarket chain call themselves Wegmaniacs. It’s such an enchanted place that some romantic guys have proposed to their girlfriends in its sacred aisles. Others have wept when they were forced to move to cities that are Wegmans-less. Thousands of people a year contact the chain, begging for one of these shrines to sustenance in their towns.
Thrillist reports that, “When Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Richie Incognito signed a new contract, he tweeted, ‘Not gonna lie…@Wegmans was a big part of me re-signing in Buffalo. This place is [fire emoji].”
We all know O linemen like to eat, but this is nuts. Can you imagine enduring even one Buffalo winter just so you could shop at a grocery store with live music?
Look, I’m old enough to remember the crazy crowds that lined up when Trader Joe’s opened in Virginia Beach about 10 years ago. Shoot, I was there when thousands of people stampeded through the newly opened doors of the first Whole Foods in Tidewater.
I was paid to be at those insane openings. If I’d been trampled, workers’ comp would have taken care of me and my bills. That won’t happen now.
Do I plan to be at the April opening of Wegmans near the Beach’s phony Town Center? Absolutely not.
“When the Northborough, Massachusetts location opened in 2011, nearly 25,000 people came to the opening,” Thrillist reported. “The town population is just over 14,000. This opening-day mania is par for the course. One group of women drove over 200 miles just to attend the opening of the grocery store. And it wasn't the first time a group of superfans turned a store debut into a long road trip destination.”
Think about that. A crowd nearly twice the population of that Massachusetts town descended on that Wegmans on opening day. People traveled hundreds of miles to be there. The population of Virginia Beach is more than 400,000. That means close to a million Wegmaniacs could rush the doors. We’ll need the National Guard and tear gas to control the hungry mobs.
Beyond the crowds, there’s another reason that I have no plans to visit Wegmans.
It’s that damned missing apostrophe.
I looked up the history of the chain and learned that it was started in 1916 by two brothers, John and Walter Wegman. The grocery business belonged to the brothers, so it should be called Wegmans’. In fact, it was. For a time.
“The company stopped using an apostrophe in 1931 when it wanted to ‘simplify’ its logo,” reports a website called MentalFloss. “Correcting their own grammar would be an expensive proposition: The company estimates it would cost a total of $500,000 to add the proper punctuation to all of their store signage.”
That tells me all I need to know about Wegmans. It’s the sort of clueless corporate outfit that places profits above punctuation.