Wegmans is a privately owned company, founded in 1916 by John and Walter Wegman as the Rochester Fruit and Vegetable Company. Wegmans is headquartered in the Rochester suburb of Gates. Danny Wegman is the CEO. His daughter, Colleen Wegman, is president; his other daughter, Nicole Wegman, is vice-president of restaurant operations. His father, Robert, who died in 2006, was chairman. Robert was the son of co-founder Walter Wegman. During his life, Robert Wegman was a pioneer in the retail food business, as well as a generous donor to educational institutions and other charities.
In 1968, the chain expanded beyond the Rochester area, with a store in Syracuse, and again in 1977 with its first Buffalo store. The first store outside New York opened in 1993 in Erie, Pennsylvania, and the expansion continued into New Jersey in 1999, Virginia in 2004, and Maryland in 2005. As a part of the company's continued expansion efforts, Wegmans opened its fifth Maryland location in Columbia on June 17, 2012. Its sixth Maryland location opened in Crofton on October 28, 2012, followed by a Germantown location on September 15, 2013. Wegmans opened a store at the Montgomery Mall in North Wales, Pennsylvania, on November 3, 2013, the first store to be part of a shopping mall since the closing of the Midtown Plaza store in Rochester.
Wegmans, having long planned to expand into New England, opened their first store in that region in Northborough, Massachusetts, on October 16, 2011. 2014 saw Wegmans opening two more Massachusetts stores, in Newton on April 27, and in Burlington on October 26. Its fourth Massachusetts store opened in Westwood on October 11, 2015. The eighth Maryland store opened in Owings Mills, Maryland in September 2016. In late 2016, Wegmans opened Virginia stores in Short Pump (August) and Charlottesville (November). More locations are scheduled to open soon, including Hanover Township, New Jersey, in summer 2017, Medford, Massachusetts, in fall 2017, Montvale, New Jersey, in fall 2017, Chantilly, Virginia, in 2018, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 2018, and Natick, Massachusetts, in 2018. Eight other locations are currently in the works, including one in Brooklyn's Navy Yard, the chain's first location in New York City, Tysons Corner, Virginia, Harrison, New York in Westchester County, the first four North Carolina locations, which are in Cary, Chapel Hill, Raleigh, and West Cary, and Virginia Beach, Virginia.
In 2009, Wegmans ranked 29th on the Supermarket News list of the Top 75 North American Food Retailers based on sales volume, up from number 32 on the 2007 Supermarket News list, and 7th among privately held U.S. supermarkets. In 2009 Stores Magazine showed it to be the 74th-largest retailer in the United States with estimated revenues of $4.67 billion As of 2006, it was the 66th largest privately held company, as determined by Forbes. On Forbes's 2005 list, Wegmans ranked 54th.
Most of Wegmans' newer stores are of the "superstore" or "megamarket" type, with a large area, a variety of foods aimed at an upscale clientele, and in many stores, Market Café in-store dining areas. Wegmans used to own and operate Tastings, a restaurant at its Pittsford, New York, store that offered patrons three distinct eating areas. Tastings has closed, replaced with The Food Bar, a 'seafood shack'-styled restaurant in the same space, and is now The Burger Bar, which serves hamburgers. Next Door by Wegmans, a stand-alone restaurant operated by Wegmans, opened across the street from the Pittsford store.
In January 2007, Wegmans announced two business ventures: (1) opening a 19,000 sq ft (1,800 m2) liquor store in Pittsford (adding to its two existing wine centers, in Virginia and New Jersey); and (2) the creation of a $28 million "Culinary Innovation Center" (in Chili, New York), a corporate research and development facility that will house a new central kitchen (replacing some of the operations at its meat center). The liquor store opened in April 2008 as Century Pittsford Wines. It is not owned by the company, but independently owned directly by a member of the Wegman family due to New York liquor laws. The store is 45,000 sq ft (4,200 m2). This business model has been replicated at three other New York Wegmans locations in Buffalo, DeWitt and Johnson City. Ownership of each liquor store is held by different members of the Wegman family due to New York State regulations prohibiting individuals from owning multiple liquor stores.
In November 2010, Walgreens filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Wegmans, claiming the "W" in the Wegman's logo is too similar to Walgreens'. The lawsuit was settled in April 2011, with Wegmans agreeing to discontinue use of its "W" logo by June 2012, although the supermarket retains the right to use the “Wegmans” name in script. According to Jo Natale, Wegmans director of media relations, “The cost of making relatively minor changes to a limited number of products was much less than the cost of litigating this case to the end.”
Wegmans offers a pick-up service called "Personal Shopping" at selected locations. Wegmans is test marketing a home delivery service as of January 2017 to customers who live in one of five zip codes near the Pittsford, NY store.
On January 30, 2016, Wegmans celebrated its 100th anniversary.
Wegmans has received much media attention for customer fan base, organic food, hot food bar, the depth of its food selection and employee happiness. Food Network recognized it with its award for Best Grocery Store in 2007, and Consumer Reports ranked it the top large U.S. grocery chain in 2012 and in 2014. It was also profiled as part of "Here Are The Jobs" segment on MSNBC's PoliticsNation on July 6, 2012. In 2016, Market Force surveyed over 10,000 grocery store shoppers nationwide, and Wegmans was rated as 'Americas favorite grocery store'.
Wegmans has a loyal fan base of customers who have received recognition for their devotion, who have lined up overnight in the thousands for a new store opening, regularly write "love letters" to the store to ask for one to open in a region not presently served, and in Northborough, Massachusetts, many high school students staged a musical about the store. The store's fans have their own twitter hashtag "#Wegmania" and a Tumblr.
Wegmans was the parent company of Chase-Pitkin, a regional home improvement retailer. On October 4, 2005, Wegmans announced that it would close all Chase-Pitkin stores by early 2006 and focus on its supermarket operations. The decision to exit the home improvement business was reportedly due to the increasing dominance of national chains such as Lowe's and The Home Depot. Chase-Pitkin stores closed individually at various points throughout March 2006.
In January 2008, Wegmans announced that it would no longer sell tobacco products because of their negative effects on human health and the environment and would offer smoking cessation programs to all employees. The decision drew praise from the American Lung Association of New York State, which presented Wegmans with the "Lung Champion Award".
Wegmans began branding its products in 1979, offering basic commodities with a lower price than the national brands. The "Wegmans" brand has gradually expanded. In 1992, it began a line of health products, "Food You Feel Good About". The next sub-brand to be launched was "Italian Classics". In 1995, Wegmans introduced its imported pastas, canned tomatoes, and olive oils. Many of the products are from Italy. In 2002, Wegmans launched a line of organic products.
Wegmans stores offer a prepared foods section called "Chefs Creations". Here, prepared entrees ranging in price from $6 to $10 are paired with two side dishes of the customers choosing. These meals can also come pre-packaged by the store for easy selection. In 2016, Wegmans began pushing their "EZ Meals" line of ready to cook entrees and dinners. These products are created in-store with the benefit of offering an easy to prepare meal.
The Wegmans brand has been used extensively in the American sitcom The Office; the program is set in the city of Scranton, Pennsylvania, which does have a Wegmans store, despite being filmed in suburban Los Angeles.