What I Love (and Don't Love) About Wegmans
by Dan Ruisi
As a Catskill mountain boy, I first heard of Wegmans in college after I made a bunch of friends from Rochester. The glowing words they used to describe it had me convinced that Wegmans was a very special place. They also talked about Tops, and sang the truly Western New York tune “Tops never mops.” When I learned that I would be moving to Buffalo, I was a little excited that I would be able to shop at the famous Wegmans supermarkets.
I was not disappointed. The various prepared food departments seemed to scream out to me, as if to sacrifice themselves for whatever raw ingredients I would ruin if I tried to cook.
And then I stumbled upon the book section. Rows of Glenn Beck hardcover books stared back at me, complete with a sickening photo of the author posing with a goofy look on his face and in a white t-shirt, so as to further bludgeon his fans with the “working man” schticklach that has served him so well. The books were arranged at the center of the display, with more shelf space than any of the other hardcovers.
I was a little disturbed, but I tried to remember to live and let live.
Subsequent visits indoctrinated me further into the world of right-wing publishing. The Rapture-baiting Left Behind series by Dennis LeHane, as well as the memoirs of George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and Mike Huckabee have all enjoyed the distinction of being displayed in the position of honor—which just so happened to be the only place born-again Christian and other conservative books are ever displayed. Glenn Beck wrote yet another book, this time with the ethically dubious psychiatrist Keith Ablow, which had smaller dimensions and so was only used to frame the main display of neo-conservative diatribes.
Slowly I also noticed the odd DVDs Wegmans had for sale. They don’t sell the usual formulary of Hollywood garbage. Instead I see rehashed classics like The Three Stooges or The Best of Johnny Carson…or newer, cheaper productions like the Left Behind series starring Kirk Cameron or Veggie Tales Bible stories for kids.
I’m not about to stop shopping at Wegmans; Tops is just like shopping at a Wal-Mart and besides, they never mop. Buffalo has no Trader Joe’s (a very liberal company), Metropolitan Market, or even a Whole Foods (which at least pretends to be liberal). Wegmans has stranglehold on the supermarket market in Buffalo.
Even checking out, I’m reminded of the religious fervor of the Wegman family. Magazines like Vogue are frequently subject to censorship by black pieces of cardboard stuck in the front of the rack, which only show the uppermost portion of the magazine. Last month, Wegmans took it upon themselves to save us from Olivia Wild’s boobies. Because the human body is disgusting, and women should be covered.
Dan Ruisi, Buffalo
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