Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Dinner for Two, Under Ten Bucks

Yesterday my colleague TW paraphrased Yogi Berra in describing the new Columbia Wegmans store. “It’s so busy that nobody is going to go there,” he commented after seeing the queue of cars waiting to get into the parking garage. He opted to take a pass.

I had a decidedly different experience less than an hour later. The store was still busy but the traffic was moving and I was immediately directed into a convenient parking space by a helpful Wegmans employee.

Though I did have a couple of items on my grocery list this trip was really to just to check the place out. Prior to this visit, the only other Wegmans I had been in was their store in Hunt Valley.

The Columbia Wegmans is nicer. For one thing, Hunt Valley doesn’t have outdoor seating for the café.

Though I wasn’t intending to pick up dinner, a pass through the Market Café soon changed my mind. I picked up a pound of Italian sausage with peppers and onions and half pound of Kansas City rice for $9.53. It was plenty of food for two people.

It occurred to me that it’s not only the existing grocery stores that should be concerned about this new competitor. Wegmans could alter the paradigm of the HoCo loco carry-out business as well. Why settle for pizza when, for the same amount of money, you can get Tuscan ribs or Etruscan salmon?

On my way out the door I stopped to check out the grocery cart escalator. I had read that it had broken down on opening day so I wasn’t surprised to see an employee stationed at the foot of the escalator helping customers acclimate to this new technology. It seemed to be working just fine.

“It was only down for about a half hour on opening day,” the cart guy told me. That apparently was just long enough to get the attention of the Explore Howard reporter, Pete Pichaske
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