Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The "Does Wegmans Rule?" Experiment

I enjoy going to grocery stores. I think this may be some type of family disorder or just in our genes or both. Whenever we went on a family vacation, my dad would take us to the local grocery store to take a look around to compare the stores to those in Pittsburgh. He would also search for Hamburger Helper’s Rice Oriental. During our April vacation in Seattle, we went to Uwajimaya, one of the largest Asian grocery retailers in the Pacific Northwest. In addition, one of the highlights of our Alaskan cruise four years ago was stopping into a small grocery store in Skagway. (They also sold Hamburger Helper’s Rice Oriental.) Based on my lifetime experience of visiting grocery stores, I feel like I am qualified (at least in my mind) to state that Wegmans is the greatest grocery store of all time.

Last week, Lacochran’s Bloggery, which has become one of my favorite daily reads, wrote a post about a rather interesting experience she had at her local Shopper’s supermarket. Almost completely unrelated to the point of the post, she claimed that the prices of Shoppers are much less than Wegmans. Besides the excellent food options, selection and customer service, one of the reasons I like Wegmans is the competitive prices. Therefore, I proposed a challenge and Lacochran ran with it.

So, here's the thing.

Sean's Ramblings and Lacochran's Bloggery are teaming up for an experiment. And we need a few volunteers. This involves no mandatory pill popping or small cups of bodily fluids. Where we are particularly interested in getting info from the DC metro area, we will take input from all over the country or, what the heck, the world (as long as you figure out the drachma to dollar conversions, or whatever.)

Just the FAQs:

Q: What is this?

A: We're asking for volunteers (read: you) to take a simple checklist, that we will provide you, to a store, fill it out, and then send it to us at lacochran(at)hotmail.com and seanramblings(at)yahoo.com. You do not need to buy the very short list of items, just price them (pre-tax) and answer a few other non-personal questions.

Q: Why?

A: We were bored? It's either a very scientific way to see how the glossy new Wegmans stacks up against the existing chains or it's a chance to flex your creative muscles in the short answer part of the form. Or both.

Q: What's in it for me?

A: By joining in the experiment you will get a free badge that reads: "I'm a super secret blog experiment shopper. Give me free stuff!" If you wear it, all kinds of free stuff might or might not come your way.

Q: How do I get included in this elite group?

A: Send an e-mail to either seanramblings(at)yahoo.com or lacochran(at)hotmail.com or both saying you want in. We'll send you the easy-peasy, one-page checklist (that you can print out multiple times for multiple stores) and your cool badge, which you can print, trim, and tape onto your Dukakis for president button. Hey, you weren't doing anything with it anyway. If you know what store you will likely be doing your secret shopper dealy at, let us know that, too.

Q: When do I start?

A: My, you are the eager beaver. Settle down there, Sport. There's no extra credit for enthusiasm but we do like your spunk. Wait, no bodily fluids in this experiment. Never mind. You can start once you receive your checklist and badge. Send your results to lacochran(at)hotmail.com and seanramblings(at)yahoo.com (if you send it to both of us you have a much better shot of at least one of us not losing it) no later than June 30, 2008.

Q: When will we see the results?

A: Sean and LA will pore over every tabulation and hanging chad until we have a definitive answer or we've had enough. Then we'll post the results. Also, particularly clever answers will be featured on one or both blogs.

Q: What else do I need to know?

A: Don't eat yellow snow.


Gilahi said...

Sounds cool. Spouse and I are always on about whether the local Shopper's or the local Giant is cheaper. Fact is, they seem to vary dramatically within a few miles of each other, depending either on the neighborhood or their target audience or both. There's a Safeway near us that's outrageously expensive, and I always thought that was something of a discount chain.

I don't have a Dukakis button, but I do have a "Howard the Duck For President '76" button. Would that do?

Sean said...

Gilahi - To quote lacochran, "there are still spots available." Send me an e-mail at seanramblings(at)yahoo.com, and I'll send you the shopping list.

Not only will the Howard the Duck for President button do, it is recommended!

Anonymous said...

I have a picture of me in LA with the voice of Howard the Duck. I wonder how much duck sauce costs! :-)

Anonymous said...

The Wegmans Police/Security Guard will be all over this. If you look at the sign in the front door, in order to get Wegmans prices you must sign in first. Maybe a way around it is to purchase all those items. You could then give it away to the person who had the most expensive shopping list.

Gilahi said...

Hey, Sean. Just wanted to let you know that I didn't intentionally ignore you. For various reasons, I'm doing my best to keep my e-mail address anonymous. I tried several ways with various accounts to get just "gilahi@{whatever}" to show up, but I just couldn't figure out how to make it work. I am, however, very interested in the results of the experiment.

Sean said...

Gilahi - If you see this, let me know if it is OK for me to add the list of items on one of your blog post's comments section. We can certainly include you without you having to provide an e-mail address.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if this is true, but my friend insists that Whole Foods is cheaper than Wegman's. I haven't done the comparison myself, but she says it's so. I DO know that WF is consistent - they ALWAYS have organic swiss chard, whereas Wegmans is maybe / maybe not.

Any interest in throwing WF into your experiment?

Sean said...

We put together a list of about 7 products that we asked people to check out in order to compare prices from different grocery stores. I would love for someone to go to Whole Foods. If you're interested in the list, send me an e-mail at seanramblings@yahoo[dot]com and we would be excited to have Whole Foods in the experiment.