Who isn’t a fan of Wegmans? This chain, which has 85 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Virginia and opens two to three more annually, has been family-owned since its founding and sells an extremely wide variety of items. And their store brand and prepared foods are legitimately fantastic. But did you know that Wegmans has been around since 1916 and was a major trailblazer in the grocery industry? Read on for nine things you didn’t know about this popular supermarket.
Wegmans got its start in 1916 as the Rochester Fruit and Vegetable Company, founded by brothers John and Walter Wegman. Five years later, they expanded to include general groceries and bakery operations, and by 1930 the name had been changed to Wegmans. All stores featured meats, produce, groceries, dairy produce, and baked goods, paving the way for the modern supermarket as we know it. In 1993 they opened their first location outside of New York State (in Erie, Pennsylvania), and they haven’t looked back since.
Wegmans has been included on Fortune’s annual “100 Best Companies to Work For” ranking since the list appeared in 1998, and has been among the top 10 for eight consecutive years; Food Network named it the Best Supermarket in America; and Consumer Reports named it the best grocery chain in America in 2012 and 2014. Oh, and those in-store dining areas are life-savers.
The story of Wegmans is really the story of the American supermarket. From pioneering many supermarket innovations that we take for granted to running their own liquor stores and adding 10,000 new items to their shelves annually, all while keeping it in the family, there are far worse places to do your grocery shopping. Read on for nine things you didn’t know about this popular grocery chain.
Robert Wegman Was an Industry Trailblazer and Philanthropist
The son of cofounder Walter Wegman, Robert joined the company in the early 1940s and was chairperson until his death in 2006. During his tenure, he grew the company into one of the largest privately owned companies in America, converting stores into a self-service format in 1949, implementing a broad employee benefit program, becoming one of the first stores in the country to use laser scanning in 1974, and building out the supply chain and store brand. He was also a major benefactor of his high school and college and helped create the Wegmans School of Pharmacy and the Wegmans School of Nursing at St. John Fisher College. His son, Danny, is the current head of the company.
The Apostrophe Was Removed in 1931
The apostrophe has been missing since the company was first incorporated in 1931, and if they decided to replace it today, adding it to every sign would cost more than half a million dollars. “Just think of it as the plural Wegmans, as in the many generations of Wegman family members that have built the company!” they write on their website.