Opening of Wegmans offers a new grocery option in Medford

A Wegmans branch in Corning, N.Y. is pictured (Courtesy Stilfehler / Wikimedia Commons)

At least three meals a day, seven days a week, plus midnight snacking, study-break snacks, coffee runs and pre-party food — it’s clear that access to good meals and frequent snacks is an important part of the college student experience. The variety of options provided on campus as well as at local stores offers solutions to familiar pangs of hunger or caffeine deficiencies. On Sunday, Nov. 5, a new option opened in Medford at Meadow Glen, a 35-minute walk or six-minute drive from Tufts: a Wegmans grocery store.

This expansive store, which will be the 95th Wegmans in the United States, prides itself on its family-owned tradition, organic foodstuffs, low prices and customer-friendly setup.

Katie Roche, a media relations coordinator at Wegmans, brought the Daily on a preview tour of its Medford location before its grand opening. She described the produce section as the store’s “crown jewel” — an array of over 140 colorful types of organic produce immediately catch shoppers’ eyes when they enter the store.

Notably, the produce that is stocked in the store comes mostly from neighboring states, according to Roche. The produce section includes a fresh-cut veggie bar, where shoppers can get their choice of vegetable chopped to save time at home.

The store features a section dedicated to creating a perfect pasta dinner: a range of pastas, vinegars, cheeses and other ingredients are all stocked next to each other, making it convenient for shoppers to quickly cook up a meal. Roche noted that the cheese section alone boasts over 300 types, imported from Europe and then aged in cheese caves in Rochester, N.Y.

The store’s all-organic coffee shop also offers cold brew and nitro-infused coffee, as well as syrups such as salted caramel, to satisfy both caffeine lovers and shoppers with a sweet tooth. Opposite the coffee station are several prepared food stations selling subspizzas cooked on a volcanic stone-base oven and burgers. Ready-to-cook packages, family-sized portions and microwavable meals that range from sushi, Mexican and seafood dishes are also available, for those who are too busy to cook their own meals.

Roche shared that there are over 200 seats for in-store dining in Wegmans. For many students, the option of going grocery shopping and encountering a wider variety of food as well as dining options is an appealing game-changer.

First-year Emily Taketa, who currently goes to bfresh just to pick up a few ingredients, says that a grocery store like Wegmans would make for a more enjoyable shopping experience.

“[That] would make it more desirable to go, especially if you want to spend more time there than just to pick up things. It becomes more of a bonding experience, with hanging out,” Taketa said.

For upperclassmen who choose to drive when completing grocery runs, parking is a big concern. Senior Eliza Ball never goes to bfresh due to difficulties with parking, and instead chooses Whole Foods or Stop & Shop.

However, the parking offered at Meadow Glen may attract students like Ball, especially if they want to do shopping at nearby stores such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kohl’s, Marshalls or Petco. Wegmans also has a partnership with grocery delivery app Instacart that allows goods to be delivered to the user’s home, which may appeal to students who lack the time to get groceries from a store.

What sets Wegmans apart from other grocery stores in the area is its liquor section, which includes wines starting at $6 and a create-your-own six pack beer option. These prices are attractive for those on a student budget.

As described by Ball, doing a “big shop” may involve greater consideration of price, and Wegmans‘ promise of “consistently lower prices” may be appealing to students who wish to do large-scale grocery shopping, but do not want to incur an unreasonable grocery bill.

Aside from its appeal to Tufts students, Wegmans will provide jobs for 200 full-time employees from Medford and other neighboring communities, as well as a new grocery store for local residents.

However, this opening does not come without concerns. In a Sept. 22 article in the Medford’s Wicked Local, one resident of the apartment complex at 3920 Mystic Valley Pky., behind the site of the future Wegmans, expressed his concerns about the noise the trucks and trash pickup schedule will bring to his home late at night.

“I think Wegmans, as it stands right now, is going to be damaging and destructive to 3920 Mystic Valley Pky., especially the west side,” he said.

According to Roche, Wegmans delivery trucks currently arrive between midnight and 6 a.m., in order to ensure that the food sold is fresh and meets consumers’ demands and expectations. However, this schedule has caused concern for some residents. According to the article, Medford residents were worried that the noise from the trucks would cause disturbances while they were trying to sleep.

The article went on to say that members of the Medford City Council agreed to check in with residents following the store’s opening to assess the level of disturbances and whether any modifications need to be made. 

Roche stated that Wegmans has worked with the residents in order to establish suitable times, and also that it is not in Wegmans’ interest to disturb residents; their approval is necessary for their success.

Taketa states that she sees the opening of the store as an alternative to the expensive dining plan at Tufts, especially for upperclassmen. She added that the growth of the Swipe It Forward initiative on campus shows that there is student demand for more affordable dining.

“It’s a good option for people to make their own food, and could be more economically inclusive,” Taketa said. “People want [and] need more cheaper and healthier dining options.”