Several weeks ago one sentence appeared in an article about Loudoun County and future growth, a note that Wegman's of Rochester, New York was going to gut a Wal Mart on Route 28 and build a new, free standing grocery store in its place.
Years ago when I decided to no longer bar hop and settled down I began to visit out of town grocery stores and wine stores rather than clubs. Over twenty years I've probably been in at least one of most every chain in America as well as a number of independents. I've also gone out of my way to find the largest of each. From Minneapolis to the biggest Larry's in Seattle to Super Kroger's to an enormous Schnuck's in St. Louis as well as an enormous Harris Teeter just north of Buckhead I've seen a lot of grocery stores!
I personally believe that the best of all American groceries stores is the Wegman's chain. Their stores are enormous, in some cases over 200,000 square feet and that is ALL GROCERY STORE. Not a hypermarket but a grocery store. They are conceived as super regional grocery/food court/market combinations which incorporate as much as one fourth of the store as a replication of markets such as Baltimore's Lexington Market. This includes an in-house butcher store, large bakery, fishmonger, etc. with elements of Eatzi's, Fresh Fields and Sutton Place Gourtmet thrown in. There are also fast food outlets as well as a restaurant. In the traditional grocery store the selection is enormous, much larger than anything in the D. C. area today. The quality is superb. The ambience is that of an all time market for part of the store with "ethnic" areas themed to the food sold there.
Overall, in the largest Wegman's such as Wilkes-Barre, PA or Corning, NY, we are talking about a physical plant which is TWICE the size of some Costcos. It is probably a quarter of a mile from one end of these stores to the other and they are also deep.
And they are all food.
Simply stated, Wegman's is the category killer to end all category killers.
I do not know how big the Sterling store is going to be. But my guess is that it will be their biggest for their entrance into this market.
They haven't started tearing down the Wal Mart yet but my guess is that a year or so from now when Wegman's opens out there you are going to be hearing a LOT about it on this board.