Store market

What impact will Wegmans have on Norwalk’s crowded grocery market?

NORWALK — This week’s announcement that Wegmans is planning to open its first Connecticut store in Norwalk was met with much fanfare and some questions about the popular chain’s impact on an already crowded grocery market. In the region.

“Known for excellent customer service and an exceptional shopping experience, we are thrilled to welcome Connecticut’s first Wegmans Marketplace to Norwalk,” Rilling said in the release. “We look forward to welcoming this terrific addition to our town and Norwalk residents and visitors to shop at the world-class market.”

It remains unclear when Wegmans will open with a spokesperson saying it usually takes several years after a new location is announced. The fate of MBI Inc., which sits on the 11-acre Richards Avenue lot where the grocery store plans to open, also remains uncertain. MBI is supposed to move to another location in Norwalk, but officials have not said where or when they will move.

Wegmans will join a bustling section of Norwalk that already includes Stop & Shop, ShopRite, Costco and Walmart along Connecticut Avenue near the Darien border.

Opening a store in Norwalk also puts Wegmans in direct competition with Connecticut’s upscale grocery chain, Stew Leonard’s, which is located across Norwalk on Westport Avenue.

Wegmans and its line of prepared foods can also compete with restaurants with its line of prepared foods, said Wayne Pesce, president of the Connecticut Food Association, a group that represents food retailers.

“The competition is going to hold their breath for the first year because people are going to take a trip and experience the new place,” he said.

But it’s unclear whether those same customers will return, he said.

“I think it’s great for the people of Connecticut and Fairfield County,” he added. “It brings competition to the market. This is a good thing for consumers in the end.

Wegmans established itself in southern New England with six locations in eastern and central Massachusetts inside the 495 and 128 freeway corridor. The chain also focused on the New England metro area. York, including a Westchester County store in Harrison, NY

Norwalk residents who live near the future Wegmans site had mixed reactions to the store’s opening.

Cottontail Road resident Nick Makris said the Wegmans would provide him with easier access than going to Darien or Westport for Whole Foods, and doesn’t think traffic will be a problem given it’s not located on busy Connecticut Avenue.

He admitted that his wife was more excited than him when they heard about the announcement.

“Jenny looked at me and said, ‘This is a big deal,'” Makris said on the doorstep of her home on Wednesday morning. But as for him, “I shrug my shoulders,” he said.

Makris said he hopes the store stocks holistic vitamins like Whole Foods — the only place in the area where he can get them.

Alex Rasevych, who also lives in the neighborhood, also highlighted all the other choices in the area, listing a list of stores including Costco, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

“It’s not bad,” he said. “It’s going to be nice to have more choices.”

Students at the nearby Norwalk Community College campus were also upbeat.

Audra Miller, a freshman from Ridgefield, said she heard about the announcement on Facebook. She wasn’t sure about going to Wegmans once it opened, but said it would be a good option for college students.

“All that matters is the location,” she added. “Is there a car park? Is it well advertised? »

Willem LaComte, a third-year student walking with her off campus, said he hadn’t heard the news, but would go. “It’s on my way,” he said.