Wegmans hiring 550 in Phila. suburbs


Wegmans is hiring for its new Collegeville store -- and yes, they plan to sell beer.

"Wegmans is beginning the process of hiring full-time employees for its new Collegeville store (in Upper Providence Township, Montgomery County) set to open in October," the Rochester, NY-based chain says. "Available positions include everything from cashiers and customer service to culinary professionals. The store will employ approximately 600 people, 550 of whom will be hired locally."

Wegmans wants would-be fulltime workers to apply online at www.wegmans.com/careers, go to Job Listings, and to Collegeville. Why is Wegmans building now, with the economy so slow? "We've been working on the location," at US 422 and PA 29 near the Wyeth labs, "since before the downturn. And everyone has to eat," Blaine Forkell, the manager who'll open the store, told me. He opened earlier Wegmans in Downingtown (2003) and Warrington (2006) since the company decided on its current low-price, limited-brands big-store model.

Wegmans employs around 37,000 at 72 stores. Most are in sleepy upstate Pennsylvania and New York towns like Erie, Bethlehem, Syracuse, and Buffalo, but increasingly it's been adding large stores in East Coast suburbs like Cherry Hill, Downingtown, and Manassas, Va.

It's avoided big cities like Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., however. "Our stores are large -- 100,000 square feet plus," said spokeswoman Jo Natale. "Finding sites in large cities that are able to accomodate a store our size with parking is almost impossible."

Natale said pay and benefits at the nonunion chain are "comparable to, or exceed, that of our competitors," which in the Philadelphia area are led by the unionized Acme and ShopRite chains. One difference: while union supermarket workers can qualify for traditional guaranteed pensions, Wegmans has only a 401(k) worker-directed retirement plan.