Will Wegman's Give Whole Foods a Run for Its Money?

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Photo: istockphoto

Wegman's, the mammoth food emporium with aisles upon aisles of glossy groceries and impossibly friendly staffers, opens its first Boston-area branch on Sunday, and people can't wait. (The new Northborough store already has 3,400 Facebook fans!) Their closest competitor is probably Whole Foods (soon to open a new branch in JP!), and we're wondering if the big W is going to cut into Whole Foods' customer base.

The Globe frames a Wegman's shopping trip as an "experience," combining the bulk offerings of BJ's with the organic element of Whole Foods, plus fun extras like a make-your-own trail mix bar and sliced-to-order veggies. Oh, and this is the really interesting part: "Everyone in the place seems ... unnaturally happy to be here." Sounds magical.

Whole Foods, meanwhile, has gotten static from a group of Jamaica Plain residents, who fear that the shop's presence will gentrify the eclectic, mixed-income area. (Contrast this with the Northborough Wegman's, where one loyal customer is already planning to camp in a winnebago to get a jump on the Sunday opening.)

WF tells the Globe that Wegman's will "raise" their "game," which can only be a good thing for the shopping public. Of course, those of us on a strict budget will still happily haunt the aisles of Market Basket.

First Taste of the Wegman's Experience [Globe]

Related: What Could Whole Foods Learn From Market Basket?