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What Makes Great Neighborhoods? Shopping-Grocery Stores

October 26, 2010 by in Rochester Metro Area
Comments (5)

So what makes a neighborhood and community great? As I am traveling the country and spending many hours away from my home, I am often struck as to the simplicity of the answers to this question.

For one thing, the residents of a neighborhood must not have to look far for food options, and that includes having many choices available for restaurants as well as grocery stores. Here in Rochester we are extremely lucky to have one of the country’s best and most respected high-end grocery chains—Wegman’s—call home throughout our area. And although Wegman’s has long shutdown its operations in the former Midtown Plaza in center city Rochester,  the company currently has major plans to revamp its store in the city’s East Avenue location.

But is it enough? In a bid to get people living back in downtown Rochester, do we have enough options available for our city residents when it comes to grocery stores?

I do a ton of travel on the west coast, and one of the stores that I really enjoy is Trader Joe’s.

This is a chain of small specialty stores that sells many of its own labeled products of organic, frozen, and gourmet foods in an average location setting of about 10,000sq. ft. which is considerably smaller than the average sized Wegman’s in our area.

Is this a viable option for the city in terms of size and offerings for our city residents? I think so. Not that I am against Wegman’s or anything, because that is far from the truth. But the fact is that more options like a Trader Joe’s or a Whole Foods store would bring about more competition in the area and keep all prices competitive and attractive for residents. Different food options such as gourmet foods and organic options also would give many city residents what they want, especially when you have a good portion of the younger market looking to the city for residences.

Are these options that will be in Rochester’s near future? Right now, the suburbs might have the bid. But the city of Rochester still has more work to do. And only if we can get a critical mass of people back into downtown Rochester I think will these options come available. With that said, I am still hoping that Wegman’s will someday open another location in the downtown Rochester to make up for the closing of its Midtown store.

Jason Schwingle’s passions include travel, art and design, and our City of Rochester. He works for Jetblue Airways and is a Sr. Community Coordinator for Newdigs.com, a local tech start-up here in our very own Rochester, NY. Please comment on the postings or feel free to contact him at Jason@Newdigs.com.


  • Sara says:

    I’ve never been to a Trader Joe’s (although my out of town friends love them!) but I think it’s sad that Wegmans only has one store in the city limits. Luckily, I live only a mile or two from it. It would be nice if there could be like a Wegmans “Lite” in a few more neighborhoods, like the South Wedge, or down near UofR. Maybe keep the selection of prepared foods (great for college kids not inclined to cook) and decrease the selection elsewhere?

    October 26, 2010 @ 2:45 pm

  • Ben says:

    As I understand it, Trader Joe’s is not in our area because they sell wine in their stores. New York does not allow the sale of alcohol in grocery stores, so their business model doesn’t work here.

    I would LOVE to see Trader Joe’s in downtown Rochester! As much as I love Mis En Place in the Wedge, there are still things I need that I can’t get there.

    October 26, 2010 @ 5:59 pm

  • Jason says:

    Thanks for the comments on Trader Joe’s and the “Wegman’s Lite” idea, great suggestion Sara!

    Not having the ability to place a store due to their model of selling alcohol is just ANOTHER reason why New York State needs to revisit its “business friendly” practices…thanks for that piece of information, Ben!

    October 26, 2010 @ 6:39 pm

  • Jacques says:

    They have stores in NYC, so not being able to sell wine shouldn’t be the reason they aren’t here.

    October 27, 2010 @ 4:35 pm

  • Jacques says:

    While I would love a Trader Joe’s in the area I still want to support the smaller local guys like Mise en Place…….

    October 27, 2010 @ 4:36 pm

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