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More than a grocery: 'It's an outing'
Construction on the Fredericksburg Wegmans is expected to begin this summer with store opening next year

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Date published: 6/21/2008

By PAMELA GOULD

Walking through a Wegmans supermarket is akin to channel surfing--on one network.

Imagine catching a glimpse of Rachael Ray whipping up a 30-minute meal in one aisle, turning a corner to find the "Barefoot Contessa" finishing a tart with fresh blueberries, raspberries and kiwi in another, and then looking over your shoulder to find chef Tyler Florence pan-searing a fillet of fresh Atlantic salmon.

Wegmans may not have the Food Network's stars, but the store has hundreds of employees willing not only to help you find everything on your shopping list, but also to equip you to prepare a healthy meal.

And should you get tired traversing a 140,000-square-foot store, you can refresh yourself in a 500-seat eating area while munching on some pizza, a panini, a plate of freshly cooked Thai fare or dozens of other freshly made items.

As customer Mary Esparza of Manassas put it this week, visiting Wegmans isn't just about buying groceries; "It's an outing."

A FAMILY BUSINESS

Wegmans started as a mom-and-pop grocery in Rochester, N.Y., in 1915. Today, the family-owned chain operates 71 stores in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia.

The first two Virginia stores opened in Dulles in February 2004 and in Fairfax one year later. Last year, the Fairfax store recorded $81.3 million in sales, accounting for 2.29 percent of the Fairfax County grocery market, according to a 2008 survey by Food World magazine. The Dulles store recorded nearly identical sales--$81.5 million--but accounted for a larger share of the market in Loudoun County at 9.13 percent.

In both counties, Giant Food is the leading grocery chain, accounting for about of all food sales.

The newest Wegmans "food market," as it calls its stores, opened this month in Prince William County on Neabsco Mills Road in Woodbridge. A second Prince William store is slated to open in the Gainesville area in November.

Fredericksburg's Wegmans is expected to open next summer, said company spokeswoman Jo Natale. The site is within the Celebrate Virginia tourism and retail development, near Homewood Suites.

At 150,000 square feet, the Fredericksburg store will be 10,000 feet larger than the Woodbridge one but offer essentially the same features, said Kevin Stickles, district manager for Virginia and Maryland.


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Fast facts on the Wegmans store planned for Celebrate Virginia:

Size: 150,000 square feet

Construction: Work has begun on the site. Construction is to begin as soon as the company gets its building permit approved, possibly this month or next.

Target opening date: Summer 2009

Employees: Wegmans brings in 40-50 management level staff and hires the remainder locally. About 600 employees total, two-thirds of whom will be part time. Some employees have already been hired to work at the Woodbridge store for on-site training before relocating to Fredericksburg.

wegmans.com