New Market Highlight: North Carolina
The Wegmans Raleigh grand opening in September, 2019
Opening Wegmans Raleigh was a milestone moment for our company. Not only did it mark our entrance into North Carolina, but also our 100th store. More than 3,000 customers stood outside the store on September 29, 2019 waiting for the doors to open, and a record 30,000 came to visit us throughout the day. Even with the anticipation of this store building for many years among employees and customers, the response was bigger and better than we could have imagined. Nearly a year later, we opened Wegmans West Cary, our second store in the area, and are now gearing up to open two more stores next year, one in Chapel Hill and the other in Wake Forest.
“The numbers are in: Raleigh breaks records in Wegmans store opening”
For decades, we received thousands of requests from customers to build a Wegmans in North Carolina. Phone calls, emails, handwritten letters, and social media messages asking, some even begging, for us to come to the area. With so many Upstate-NY transplants in the Raleigh area, Wegmans was a household name well before we announced our intent to build in the region. We also heard from hundreds of employees wanting to relocate when rumors of a potential store began. We now have more than 200 employees working in North Carolina who moved there from other states.
“I am writing to you from North Carolina to confess my love for Wegmans. I am originally from Rochester, and whenever I travel back there, my first stop is always your store. Please give me some hope that Wegmans will come to my area soon. I know whole-heartedly that North Carolina will LOVE Wegmans just as much as I do,” one customer wrote.
“When we visited the Raleigh-Durham area in 2014, we quickly saw that the area had everything we were looking for,” said Ralph Uttaro, Senior Vice President of Real Estate and Development. “With the population expanding rapidly, we saw the potential for it to become a multi-store market. Our timing was perfect, as multiple real estate opportunities quickly presented themselves.”
Over the course of those next few years, Wegmans announced six locations in the Raleigh-Durham market; Raleigh was first in January 2016, with the others following shortly after. With four stores opening in three years, it is one of the company’s fastest and most aggressive entries into a new market.
One of our first priorities as we break ground on a new store is to establish relationships in the community. Getting to know the local schools, food banks and food pantries, United Ways, and other local non-profits allows us to determine how we can best make a difference in each community we serve. Our employees live and work in these neighborhoods, and are passionate about the organizations, projects, events, and fundraisers that better the community for all. Since entering North Carolina, we’ve donated roughly $250,000 to more than 200 local community organizations. As a food company, our mission is to help our customers and employees live healthier, better lives through food, and that goes far beyond the products we sell in our stores. Committed to supporting our communities, we focus on sharing food and enriching our neighborhoods in every way we can.
Wegmans West Cary
While the Raleigh store opening was unprecedented, no one could have imagined what was in store for the West Cary team, forced to complete hiring, training, and putting the finishing touches on the store during the heart of the coronavirus pandemic. Starting in March, businesses across all industries were challenged to think differently, from supply chain and workforce, to communication and operating procedures. Many of our existing and proven store-opening procedures needed to be re-examined and re-worked to ensure we could keep our employees and the community safe throughout construction, hiring, training, and opening. As an essential business, there was an urgency to get our doors open to the public as quickly as possible. While unemployment was rising, we were in a unique position of having hundreds of jobs that needed to be filled immediately. More than 8,000 candidates applied for positions and were interviewed and hired virtually to expedite the process.
Now, with two stores opened, we are looking forward to the future. Our Chapel Hill and Wake Forest stores are scheduled to open next year—Chapel Hill in early spring, and Wake Forest in late spring. With roughly 900 employees already working in the state, there are many opportunities for existing employees to transfer and advance their careers, as well as for others to get their start with Wegmans. Over the next eight months, we will be hiring roughly 400 employees for each new store. Full-time hiring for Chapel Hill is underway, and part-time hiring will begin in October. Hiring for Wake Forest will begin on September 14th. While we are still too far out to announce opening dates, we begin hiring early in order to start training employees at the Raleigh and West Cary stores.
Interested applicants may apply online at https://jobs.wegmans.com.
“I am so proud of everything our North Carolina store teams have accomplished over the past two years,” said Blaine Forkell, division manager, Virginia and North Carolina. “The Raleigh and Cary communities have welcomed us with open arms, and we can’t wait to grow our footprint in the Raleigh-Durham area with our next two stores. We have met some great applicants and are looking to continue hiring people who share our love for food and commitment to incredible customer service.”