Hope Rogers, Staff Writer
The popular family-owned New York based grocery store, Wegmans, has made plans to open its first store in North Carolina. Despite the growing competition between grocery chains such as Publix and Whole Foods, in 2015, Wegmans was ranked the top grocery store in the country according to the Consumer Reports’ annual survey of customers.
Wegmans, which was founded by brothers John and Walter Wegman, opened its first store in 1916. Since then, Wegmans has expanded to 88 stores, primarily in the north. According to The News Observer, Wegmans spokeswoman Jo Natalie said, “We have signed a letter of intent and are working through lease negotiations with Columbia Development Group, with hopes of reaching a final lease agreement sometime during the first quarter of 2016.” The first NC store will be located in Cary, across from the Cary Towne Center.
The 90-acre property will consist of much more than the grocery store; the primary development sketch plans included up to 600 apartments. The site is located directly off of Interstate 40 and is currently inhabited by an indoor shopping mall. However, its future does not look promising as large retailers such as Macy’s and Sears have closed down their stores.
Councilman Don Frantz described the location as a “gateway into Cary”, noting that, “It needs to be remarkable. It needs to be something that stands the test of time. It needs to be something that provides a lot of jobs, shopping, retail, restaurants and residential.” As Wegmans stores include a pharmacy, restaurants, a coffee shop, bakery, and more, the new store may be exactly what Mr. Frantz was hoping for.
Although the plans are not yet final for the new store, fans of Wegmans have already taken to social media to show their excitement. Ty Bates, a former Wingate student, exclaimed on Facebook, “I LOVE Wegmans!! It’s got great lighting and decorations that make you feel like your in little Italy. They sometimes even have live local singers come in and play for the people eating in their hot food section (which is to die for).” Also a Facebook page called “Bring Wegman’s to the NC Triangle Area – Please” was created last year and has over 500 likes.
According to the Wegmans website, four new stores are set to open this year. Nine other stores are currently listed on the site as future locations, two are set to open in 2017 and the others are to be determined. Cary is not included in the list, and Ms. Natalie could not disclose Wegmans’s future plans to open in other NC locations.
Edited by Brea Childs and Shea Murray