The Cult of Wegmans Is Coming to Boston
When news broke Monday that Wegmans, an east coast grocery chain with a loyal cult following, would open its first Boston location in the Fenway area, people got downright rowdy. Reactions to the report that Mayor Tom Menino would announced the opening at a speech Monday afternoon ranged from “Oh joy, oh rapture!!” to “YESSSSSSSSSS FINALLY I LOVE YOU @wegmans” to “RE-ELECT TOM MENINO!!!!!!!!”
Such to-do surrounding a mere grocery store might confuse the uninitiated. But the company’s prices, stock, and focus on customer service have given it a cult fan base over the years. (Yahoo News calls it a “fanatical cult following” so, there’s that.) As Reuters columnist David Rohde wrote in The Atlantic last year of its customer-service focused model:
Cashiers are barred from interacting with customers until they have completed 40 hours of training. Hundreds of staffers are sent on trips around the U.S. and world to become experts in their products. The company has no mandatory retirement age and has never laid off workers. All profits are reinvested in the company or shared with employees.
And yet, it’s profitable.
All that seems to create a devoted fan base. Wegmans has inspired a colorfully named Tumblr, and its Northborough location, the first in Massachusetts, inspired a high school musical, titled, wait for it, “Wegmans … The Musical.”
The news isn’t entirely rapturous, with some rumblings on social media about increased traffic and limited space at the Landmark Center, where it’s supposed to open. Those questions aside, those of us who’ve remained Wegmans agnostic this long better prepare for the arrival of what appears to be some kind of religious movement.