After starting as a neighborhood fruit market in Rochester in 1916, Wegmans opened its first Buffalo-area store the same month the Blizzard hit: The Dick Road, Cheektowaga, location opened in January 1977.
By the time News Reporter Sharon Linstedt examined Wegmans move into the Buffalo market 20 years ago today, the chain had opened seven stores with two more on the way — including the store slated for Amherst Street near Elmwood Avenue. Analysts looked as that city location as a game-changer in Buffalo’s supermarket wars.
"One of Wegmans' bolder moves, creation of a market-style produce department, has become a trademark of the chain. He had a gut feeling that the public would buy more fruit and vegetables if the produce was taken out of shiny glass coolers and displayed without plastic wrapping.
"The end result was oddly reminiscent of the Rochester Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Co. founded in 1916 by his father, Walter E. Wegman, and his uncle John B. Wegman.
" 'It always bothered me that our produce sales would drop off during the road stand season,' he said. 'It made a lot of sense to bring that same produce into our stores and save people a trip to the country.' "