Wegmans' Planned Baltimore Store Could Be Biggest Yet

HUNT VALLEY, Md. -- Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. said yesterday that it would open a 140,000-square-foot store in this Baltimore area town on Oct. 2, the retailer's first in the state of Maryland.

The store is large even by Wegmans standards: The Rochester, N.Y.-based specialty grocer, which prides itself on running bigger-than-average stores, normally has locations ranging from 80,000 to 130,000 square feet.

Among the features of the Wegmans at Hunt Valley Towne Center are:

--A produce section offering up to 700 varieties every day, including locally grown fruits and vegetables in season. Signage will often include names and photos of local farmers who supply the store.

--Daily seafood deliveries, with shoppers who've signed up on wegmans.com for Fresh News when a spectacular receiving e-mail alerts when noteworthy seafood shipments are due to arrive.

--Meal options including recipes demonstrated in-store every day and quick, nutritious ready-to-eat foods.

--Consistently low prices, particularly on products regularly purchased by shoppers.

--More than 60,000 items, vs. the 40,000 usually carried by grocery stores, including up to 400 cheeses, extensive kosher and international selections, authentic French pastries, and a rich variety of household goods, among them patio furniture, tiki lamps, and imported linens. McCormick, a vendor located in Hunt Valley, will debut a spice display with more than 250 items at the store, which will its first market test of the display, according to an article this week in the Baltimore Business Journal.

--A 300-seat Market Café and an outdoor patio, where shoppers can choose from sushi and a 44-item Asian buffet to subs, deli sandwiches, hot entrees and side dishes, and a chef's case of daily specials.

--More than 600 employees, whom Wegmans began hiring and training about a year earlier.

According to the Baltimore Business Journal, local competitors, among them Santoni's Marketplace and Catering Co., Giant Food stores, and Super Fresh, have been remodeling to include more produce, bakery, deli, and organic foods in anticipation of Wegmans' imminent entry into their market.

Wegmans runs 68 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Virginia.
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