Boston Restaurant Talk reports Wegmans is closing its Natick Mall outlet.
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I've always sort of wondered what their strategy is here. They obviously have a fan base and people swear by them out in upstate NY. I've heard that out here at the end of the supply chain, the product is worse. Their main distribution center is in Pottsville, Pa. but most of their other markets are less isolated. Other than a few outposts in NC and Virginia, the other stores are all much more concentrated (in the DMV up to the Tri-State, and then upstate NY).
Oh and then they sell sushi-grade fish by weight and charge sales tax claiming that it's sushi, as opposed to non-sushi-grade fish in the fish department which doesn't get taxed, so I'll stick with New Deal. (Sushi? Yeah, that's prepared. A slab of fish sold by weight? That clearly shouldn't be. They claim that because it is sold in the same part of the store as prepared sushi, it should be taxed. Which isn't the case. So basically eff Wegmans.)
They claim that because it is sold in the same part of the store as prepared sushi, it should be taxed. Which isn't the case.
Yes, that's exactly the case.
"Massachusetts charges a sales tax on meals sold by restaurants or any part of a store considered by Massachusetts law to be a restaurant."
The sushi bar/sub shop/pizza counters at Wegmans are considered "restaurant parts".
"Restaurant part: A restaurant part is an area, section or counter, etc., within a store from which meals are sold. Any store that contains a restaurant part must charge a sales tax on those meals."
That's why those sections are always bunched together in the stores so that they can legitimately square off that area as the "restaurant part" and everything in the zone is sold with meals tax on it at the register.
I've heard that out here at the end of the supply chain, the product is worse.
The only compliant I’ve ever had with an MA store is that Chestnut Hill used to feel more like a Whole Foods than a Wegmans, and only had ciabatta sub rolls when they opened (IYKYK). Generally speaking, fresh/perishable stuff like meats, premade food, subs, etc. are just as good as in NY. I can’t speak for fish I guess, not a seafood guy.
Source: I’ve shopped almost exclusively at Wegmans since they opened in the area; usually Medford but sometimes Burlington or Natick. I also spend 1/4 to 1/3 of any given year in Syracuse, where family also shops there exclusively.
What's your issue with Pottsville? It's a truck drive away.
I had a surprisingly good piece of fish in Salt Lake City once. How? Planes, every day. No different than a truck from Gloucester driving to Newton.
I go to Weggies occasionally in Northboro and it's a very nice store. Probably one of the nicer food shopping experiences around and it's always busy.
My take on Natick was that it was a bit of a gamble and it missed. I give them credit for trying something different. Nobody wants to deal with inconvenient parking when going food shopping.
All food outlets, be it a chain fast food restaurant or a national supermarket brand, use local purveyors to some degree. For example, I know that Wegmans uses pork processed by Catelli Brothers in Sutton, MA.
There's one big problem with the Natick Wegmans...and that's the mall all around it.
Most people go to the grocery store more often than they go to the mall. It needs to be convenient in and out. But the Natick one requires you to park in a separate parking garage and cross over the mall road to even get into the grocery store AND go back again with your groceries. You're not going to get your freezer goods then go browse the mall...or stop by Louis Vuitton...then swing around to Wegmans to get a cart of groceries with your car in a different parking area. And it was in the back corner too no matter which way you enter the mall, so it's not even an easy-in/easy-out from the road.
Add to that there's an Aldi across the street, 2 Stop'n'Shops, a Target (with groceries), and BJ's all within a mile (and a Roche Bros just beyond that)...and about the only fight they didn't pick was with Market Basket which is on the other side of Framingham from there.
Novel concept...worth a shot, but the Mall never really was the right place for it. It'd probably do gangbusters near the center of Natick where there's nothing that close and decent roads in every direction. It'd just be a matter of finding the right space and traffic flows.
Going to the Natick Wegmans was rather confusing. Two levels, and things were spread out. It felt like I was walking to Framingham to fond what I needed. And, proud to say that I can navigate my local Wegmans in Westwood without having an anxiety attack anymore….And Chestnut Hill is very convenient when I have doctors appointments in Longwood and just don’t want to deal with the Trader Joe’s parking lot in Coolidge corner. (One of the circles of hell)
You go up a few levels and enter the store on the second floor. There's even that cute cart escalator in the middle.
I have to say that this is the Wegmans I've used the most, but then again for some odd reason I am at the Natick Mall more than I should be. I think I've only done a complete grocery store trip there once, so bringing the 5 or so items we bought to the other side of the mall wasn't too bad.
I disagree with you in that I think that having a grocery store there was a great idea. The point of a shopping center is to centralize commerce, so a grocery store fits well with the concept.
The Target at the South Shore Plaza does it's grocery business with no problem. At the end of the day, though, there are a lot of grocery stores a short drive from the Natick Mall, so that's a good point. If Wegmans had the loyalty here it has in Wegmans Land, it wouldn't be closing.
You’re probably right about loyalty in that area. You definitely don’t see the same NY expat presence as you do in Medford and Burlington (based on the oh so scientific eyeballing Syracuse and Buffalo shirts and hats, anyway). I personally only use Natick if I need to run to the mall for something anyway, or am passing through on the Pike and want to knock out groceries on the way home. If I grew up here I’d probably be just as tied to Stop and Shop or Market Basket.
...which is fun _if_ you're leaving a store, not if you pretty much need it to get any kind of shopping done. Even on the lower floor things were weirdly spaced out, such that the amount of ground you need to cover was epic. The weird parking arrangement (noted above) didn't help.
I live nearby but I found it pretty much impossible to make a quick stop there. And other than people who live in the complexes inm or adjacent tom the mall, most people who drive there also have other options a similar distance away-- except that it's possible to get in and out of many of them in single-digit minutes.
***Not hating on the quality, prices, or overall experience-- with the exception of having to go up and down the escalator to look for stuff-- but the time involved in getting in and out was brutal. I went to the Natick Wegmans if I had other stuff to do nearby, and I went to Westwood regularly when I worked nearby, but Natick was never my go-to.
The Roche Bros. in West Roxbury is in a convenient location, but maybe not the best location for suburban planning. Maybe this was the problem with Wegmans in Natick in that driving there was too inconvenient for most people. I was in there once before Covid and the place was packed. From what I'm reading the store did not recover and I'm assuming worker shortage/low pay had something to do with it too. Like others have said, I think a Wegmans right on Rt. 9 with lots of easy parking and ground level shopping might do better if they ever plan on doing it again. But like Kaz mentions, maybe the area is just too saturated with supermarkets. I'm thinking of the Wegmans in Westwood though. There is also a Target there, a BJs AND Costco within a mile, a Walmart and Big Y one town over, a Roche Bros in the same town, and a STAR in Dedham Plaza (Across from whole foods in Legacy) with another Stop and Shop on the WR/Dedham Line. Add in Lamberts on Rt. 9 and the area is very saturated with supermarkets. I do think the lack of good Boston (the City) supermarkets impacts the area as well though.
Back to my WR hijack: Roche Bros is probably too big for Centre St. Hundreds of cars in there every day that weren't at the old Star across the street way back when. Heartland was the place, and I think the WVF (which has it's own rush hour traffic issues) would be a better place for a popular supermarket than Roche in terms of MV safety.
From what I'm reading the store did not recover and I'm assuming worker shortage/low pay had something to do with it too.
Wegmans actually pays its workers quite well. It's almost permanently on the top of the list of Fortune's best employers and also is highly rated by its employees.
I wouldn't be surprised if the management is trying to figure out how to help the employees in Natick jump in at Chestnut Hill or Westwood or Northborough depending on what's convenient for the employee.
the store is actually great but the parking is terrible and inconvenient. If you're driving to get to a Wegmans (live in Allston), is easier and better to go to Medford or Westwood than Natick with less issues with getting to and from your car.
Wegmans went downhill during COVID and never came back. Produce was crap. Multiple cartons of strawberries typically have mold, along with other fruit. I stopped going there after they got rid of the “scan it” app which was phenomenal but unfortunately that turned into a license to steal and went away.
Wegmans got more pricey and fruit is terrible. Also at the Chestnut Hill you, had have dozens of instacart people who flooded it in 2021, going there on a weekend is like the last days of Saigon.
I think if the Natick one had a 'shop now and pick up bags later or in other location' might have been more workable. A few times when we were in the mall we popped in for a few items - also the Mexican restaurant was not bad at all
I think the last time I was at the Natick Mall, John H. Garabedian was broadcasting live in the mobile unit for WGTR - AM.
When the food court was on the first floor and had an Orange Julius. Oh, and the mall had Filene's at one end and Sears at the other. And Natick, Framingham, Shoppers World and Natick Mall were all still fighting about building Flutie Pass.
The entire mall smelled like Wonder Bread.
Natick Drive in was across the street and you could swing by Carvel's to get an ice cream cake
It's right off the spur trail from the Cochituate Rail Trail. Much better than having to go through a large parking lot to a crappy bike rack installed much too close to a wall (like the Wegmans in Medford. In general I wish there were much more mixed use supermarkets that are just as easy to walk or bike, than to drive.
IMHO I think Wegmans is the best supermarket chain in the area by far. And i hope they are here to stay, but i think they missed the mark on some locations. Obviously having a store in a mall is a bad location when so many others in the area are easier to access.
Chestnut hill is too small and cramped. They need to stick to the suburban shopping center format (Burlington) that has served their chain so well. Maybe move this Natick location to Newton/Waltham area?
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