Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Comparison Shopping

There is a cult in Ithaca that LOVES Wegmans. It is not only their grocery store and deli, it is their social center - they have live guitar players, beatnik poetry reading, you name it. Some of our best friends here over the years have been devoted Wegmanites. And I admit that they have more culture than Tops where I've been shopping lo these many years. I admit they have MUCH more variety, including of the organic varieties. They have computer terminals that will tell you where to find anything, it's such a large place. Our friends never would believe me, though, that a person has to pay for that social experience and variety. The prices are higher at Wegmans than at Tops. There's nothing wrong with paying, as long as you are willing to.

Since no one seemed aware that they were paying more, Joy and I did some comparison shopping. The results are in. If Wegmans is actually cheaper for you than Tops, I know you live on peanut butter sandwiches. You see, peanut butter ($1) and multigrain whole wheat bread ($1) are almost the only things where Wegmans had a price advantage. Other example on our shopping list include applesauce (50 cents cheaper, but much runnier), canned pears (10 cents), and (depending on the week) eggs. Cauliflower and canned peaches were the same price.

Every other fruit, vegetable, dairy, soda, and meat that we buy cost more at Wegman's than at Tops - and we're talking store-brand buying or produce here. Celery an extra 80 cents per stalk, zuchini 20 cents per pound, 50 cents more for cucumbers, for milk, for imitation crab, 20 for bacon, 5 cents per soda - the effect of another bottle tax. Frozen broccoli cost $2.87 more for the same quantity! For the amount of yogurt we buy, it was 80 cents more expensive and neither Hyrum nor I could stand it. Yogurt is Hyrum's favorite food and he wouldn't eat the W variety. The meat selection at Wegmans is wide, lovely (we had a magnificent tenderloin), but terribly expensive. Well beyond our budget, particularly when doctor after doctor puts us on high-protein diets.

Now we don't buy many boxed foods, and maybe Wegmans is cheaper for them. I've just never walked out of that store when I went there to get something I couldn't find at Tops thinking I had gotten a good deal.

Please enjoy the cultural venues. The deli looks good. Their desserts look awesome. They carry t-shirts and a wider variety of everything, and they even have a play area for kids (3 and up). Just know you are paying for the privilege. We're more of a Tops/Aldi's family and are likely to stay that way for some time to come. On the other hand, when we go in for the odd item, we now know to stock up on peanut butter and multi-grain bread.

Joy was at Wegmans for 2-3 hours performing this test. Much praise is due her. "I went back to the meat aisle three times thinking there's got to be something cheaper here."


Grandma Jule said...

FWIW, my father (your grandfather) was a Professor of Marketing and Management, and he would have agreed WHOLEHEARTEDLY with your conclusions and analysis.

Dad owned 3 grocery stores the whole time I was growing up, and we *always* had our "special draws" on weekends - - - like nickle ice cream cones, or tacos for 15 cents (naturally, I only remember the promos I enjoyed the most!) - - - and we had to make up for the cost of those "giveaways" somewhere else in the store.

CostCo does essentially the same thing with their "taste counters." I mean, be honest with me - - - how many times have you said to yourself "Golly! I've just GOT to run down and pick up some teeny h'ourdeurve quiches!" But, there you are in the store, and they offer you one, and they are SOOOOO GOOOD, you just HAVE to buy a box of 24!!!

My Sainted Mother makes an absolute PROFESSION out of comparing store prices, and once a week making a run from one place to the next, picking up only the bargains at each.

As with all things in life, it's a matter of trade-offs. If you don't mind spending the extra money, you can enjoy the convenience of one-stop-shopping in the elegance of Wegman's (and it *IS* elegant!! As a marketer's daughter, I've NEVER in ALL MY LIFE seen anything quite like it!!); if you don't mind shopping seeral stores, you can save yourself some serious cash - - - as long as you don't have to spend it on gas getting you there and back again!

Jon said...

Watsons, join the bliss and rapture that is the Wegmans. Your fruit will never be fresher, your bagels will never be tastier, and the reusable bags now come in three different colors/styles. Join us; there is always room at the Wegmans. Give into your granola, or yuppie selves. After this you can eat organic vegetables, grain fed beef and finally.......tofu. We had barbeque tofu for the 4th.......it was gggrrrrreeeeeeeaaaaaatttttt....

Give in to the Wegmans.....Join us!

Resistance is futile!