Many Wegmans shoppers are saying goodbye to a store that’s been like an old friend.
"I spend a lot of time here,” says Mark Wyand who buys his lunch at the store every day. “I’m also going to miss the presence when it's closed.”
"I’ve just been going here for so long,” says Dana Lunduquist, a Pittsburgh, PA implant who’s been shopping at the store since she was accepted into the Eastman School of Music. “It’s sort of my instinct to come to the East Avenue Wegmans."
"It’s convenient and a lot quicker to get through,” Michele Gilman says while on her lunch break.
After 51 years, the city’s only Wegmans is closing its doors at 6 p.m. Saturday. But the good news for these sentimental shoppers is that’s only a prelude to the opening of a new and improved store, next door.
"I am so happy for the changing, which is good for our customers,” says Rose Floyd. “I know they're going to have more to offer in the newer store. So I’m looking forward to it and I will be there on the first day of the opening."
The old Wegmans building will be torn down to make way for additional parking spaces. The new store is said to be twice the size.
Some shoppers say they like this smaller store and the relationships they’ve built as customers.
“Linda who does the daily hot foods selections is awesome,” says Wyand. “She’s been kind of a friend and counselor you know those stressful work days…We chit-chat for a little while.”
Others say they’re OK with a larger store, which will include a broader selection of goods and a dine-in area.
“They don't always have everything you need like the other bigger Wegmans, Gilman says. “So I’ll be happy to get a bigger Wegmans."
With slim pickings, shoppers are moving through the aisles grabbing what they can find.
"I’m a little emotional. I'll be honest,” says Wyand.
Wegmans says it’ll keep store shelves lightly stocked with staple foods right up until the lights go out on Saturday. Leftovers will be donated to Foodlink, and local churches will deliver perishable goods to area soup kitchens.
"It’s exciting. It means something new is coming. So, it's good," Lunduquist adds.
Store employees will be temporarily relocated to other Wegmans stores. The pharmacy will move across the street into this building. For the time being, shoppers will have to travel farther for their groceries.
"I'm not really sure where I’m going to go for lunch. There are other options here, not the healthiest," Wyand says. "Maybe, Tops. Maybe I’ll be a convert."
"I might have to go the Tops in Brighton,” Lunduquist loathes. “But yeah, I'll definitely be trying to find other ones, other Wegmans in the area, too."
Floyd says she plans to travel to the Monroe Avenue Wegmans in Pittsford.
“That's not too far. It even has much bigger store and more variety of stuff there."
The expanded operation also requires 150 new hires - beginning the first week in March. The new store’s grand opening is set for May 19th at 7 a.m.