Wegmans’ newest store in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area complements the urban environment in Tysons, Virginia, with a smaller store concept and extensive prepared meal offerings.
Wegmans’ stores usually have 60% grocery and 40% perishable assortment, but the Tysons location is roughly an even split, said Matt Collalto, the store’s service area manager.
The store is on the ground level of a tower on the public-facing portion of Capital One’s global headquarters. It’s a prime location to not only serve employees and visitors at the banking giant’s campus, but also to feed workers from nearby office buildings occupied by companies like PwC, Mitre, Gannett and Northrop Grumman, as well as residents of the growing number of apartment complexes in the area.
Located near the intersections of Routes 123 and 267 and I-495, the store fits Wegmans’ penchant for opening stores along major highways and also has the benefit of being next to a Metro station, making it accessible to people who rely on public transit. The store, which opened to the public Wednesday morning, is open from 6 a.m. to midnight daily and located at 1835 Capital One Drive S.
Known for its traditional opening day festivities, Wegmans announced in late May that it would forego store opening events this year. In an effort to maintain social distancing, employees will limit the number of customers in the new store at any given time Wednesday.
Store managers gave individual tours to the media last Thursday as employees worked to stock up the floor space of the 80,000-square-foot store. The store will have 450 employees — most hired locally — and will carry more than 40,000 SKUs, Collalto said.
Prepared foods are the store’s center of attention. When shoppers walk in, they are immediately greeted by the Buzz Coffee Shop in front of them and, to their right, a poke bowl station and a Japanese-inspired, full-service bar with hand-rolled sushi, hand-crafted cocktails featuring Japanese spirits, local beers on tap, and wine and sake available by the glass. The bar is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Along with the options at the front of the store, there’s also a corridor of made-to-order offerings including stations for salads and pizza, the Sub Shop with hot and cold artisan sandwiches, and the Soup Station, which has up to four seasonal varieties. The Burger Bar, a fast-casual restaurant counter with burgers, salads, sandwiches, specialty milkshakes, soups and sides, is also located in the corridor for shoppers who have extra time to spare.
All of the prepared food is available for online ordering through Wegmans' Meals 2Go program, which offers curbside pickup, carryout and delivery. Meanwhile, online grocery orders are separate and handled by Instacart.
The store also has ready-to-eat items with labels like “Veggie bowls,” “Family entrees,” “Seasonal” and “Latin” in cases and a separate section for ready-to-cook options with chef-inspired meals. People who want to hang out at the store can find indoor and outdoor seating at the Market Cafe, which features modern decor.
The Buzz Coffee Shop
The coffee shop features an espresso machine, a Seraphim machine that makes pour-over coffee and a Trifecta machine that works like a French press, offering strong coffee with a smooth flavor, an employee said.
In addition to coffee, the shop offers a variety of teas, including three types of loose leaf tea and fresh brewed iced tea. The employee said that Nitro green tea looks like beer with its yellowish color and foamy top.
Health and wellness
Among the aisles, shoppers can find a health section that includes CBD products and “teaching tables” that hold demonstrations, Collalto said.
The new Wegmans has several measures in place to help keep shoppers and employees safe during the novel coronavirus pandemic, including a cleaning team, plexiglass at registers and Purell hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the store. Cashiers sanitize their workspaces and hands between customers, and visual markers throughout the store remind customers to keep six feet away from each other. The olive bar, which would normally be self-serve, has plexiglass and employees serving the olives, Collalto said.
To reduce contact, shoppers can use the grocer’s SCAN App to scan and bag their groceries while shopping and then pay for the items using a QR code at the self-checkout stations, which account for 12 of the 33 front end registers.
Charcuterie case, deli and cheese shop
While most Wegmans stores have charcuterie, this one has an entire case devoted to it, with 16 feet of charcuterie compared to the regular eight feet, Collalto said.
The case is near a small wine display and the cheese department, which has several hundred different varieties of domestic and imported specialty cheeses. Some of the cheeses come from cheese caves in New York state and are brought to the store to finish aging in temperature- and humidity-controlled cases, Collalto said.
Shoppers can also find cured specialty meats, dry sausage and pre-packaged or sliced-to-order organic deli meats and cheese. There are more than 40 items of Mediterranean options, ranging from imported and domestic olives to antipasti.
The alcoholic beverage section features roughly 2,000 wines, including $6 bottle offerings and fine wines, and more than 900 varieties of craft, domestic and imported beers and hard ciders. The store offers “Craft Your Own” six-packs and eight color-coded shelf signs: “light,” “crisp,” “fruity,” "hoppy,” “malty,” “sour,” “spiced” and “dark.”
While the wine section is usually in the back of the store, the Tysons store has it in a "prominent" location, Collalto said — near the front of the store to the left where people walk in and next to the registers.
Over at the produce section are hundreds of fruits and vegetables, including organic options and locally grown produce in season that is picked daily for the store. Along with produce, shoppers can also find flowers, greeting cards and bottles of juice in this area, with an overhead sign touting organic bananas for $0.59 per pound.
The signs for "consistent low prices" are a theme. Throughout the store, “Family Pack” products save shoppers 30% or more compared to regular-sized products. Shoppers can find Family Packs in the meat, seafood, product, dairy, frozen foods and grocery sections.
Seafood and meat
Meanwhile, the seafood department sells whole, fresh fish that’s delivered daily and cut to order and fully traceable, sustainable seafood without chemicals. The store offers eight to 10 varieties of fish depending on availability and seasonality and, at the moment, three types of oysters.
The seafood includes East Coast catches along with imported offerings, like cod and flounder from Iceland, Collalto said, adding that the store’s opening will feature scallops. Shoppers can find fresh and frozen options, along with ready-to-cook meals and appetizers. The store will steam shellfish, including lobster, shrimp, mussels, clams and crabs, upon customer request for free.
Meanwhile, the meat department sells organic beef, pork, chicken, lamb, bacon and sausage alongside its conventional meat. Ready-to-cook entrees and pre-marinated meats are available as well in the department. The Tysons location is one of the few Wegmans stores that have an in-store dry ager.
Location, location, location
Urbanization and the resulting demand for grocery store options in Tysons add to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area’s growing grocery market. "More and more people are moving here and it's really got a great kind of urban feel," Collalto said about Tysons.
Whole Foods opened its Mid-Atlantic flagship store, which includes a pub, game room, food hall and self-serve beer, in Tysons last fall. Amazon Go Grocery plans to reportedly open several stores in the area. Lidl, which opened its U.S. headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, in 2015, plans to debut several stores in Virginia and Maryland as part of its East Coast expansion.
The new Wegmans also sees itself as a part of the community and partners with local food banks. For example, the bakery, which sells artisan-style breads and rolls, cookies, pastries and other desserts, will donate excess items to Food for Others, a local food bank, every weekday, Collalto said.
Other sustainability efforts include recycling bins throughout the store, along with trash bins, to encourage shoppers to recycle, composting bins for all of the departments and a “green team” made up of store employees who will meet monthly to discuss zero waste goals.