Saturday, May 30, 2015


This blog lasted almost three months without mentioning Wegmans, but at some point it had to be done.  As with commute times, selling a location based on its grocery store might seem like a stretch.  But just as it's impossible to not admire Lebron James at the pinnacle of his trade, it's hard to not appreciate an entity that serves as the model for all its competitors.  Here are a few reasons why Wegmans is revered:

  • Consumer Reports has consistently ranked Wegmans as the best supermarket in the country.
  • Fortune recently ranked Wegmans as the 7th best company to work for in the country.
  • Wegmans, based in the Rochester suburb of Gates, is one of the region's three largest employers.
  • Wegmans has its own organic farm in Canandaigua, NY.
  • The Wegmans Employee Scholarship Program has awarded $100 million in college tuition assistance to Wegmans employees since 1984.
  • Wegmans received the 2011 Friend of Education Award from the School Administrators Association of New York State.
  • Wegmans has received too many awards to list recognizing its commitment to working mothers, workplace diversity, employment of seniors, and employment of those with developmental disabilities.  

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Commute Times

Selling a place on commute times is a bit of a stretch...unless you actually commute, have a couple kids, and enjoy anything besides working and sleeping.  In such a case, a short commute time is the best thing ever.  Adding 10 minutes to a one-way commute can cost 80 hours over the course of a year - that's over 3 complete days.  Adding 30 minutes one-way can cost 10 complete days.  Rochester, despite offering big-city amenities, tends to offer small-town commutes:

  • In 2011, Kiplinger identified Rochester as being the best location for commuters among metro areas with over 1 million people.
  • The average commute time in Rochester was 18.7 minutes, compared to 25 minutes nationally.  That's a saving of over 50 hours (or 2 full days) per year.
  • The yearly delays per commuter amounted to 12 hours in Rochester, compared to 34 hours nationally.    
  • The yearly fuel wasted per commuter was 11 gallons in Rochester, compared to 28 gallons nationally.
  • The yearly congestion cost per commuter was $273 in Rochester, compared to $808 nationally.

                                               Not Rochester

Sunday, May 17, 2015

House of Guitars

As noted previously, Rochester tends to be quite musically inclined.  In addition to an elite music school, top-tier jazz festival, high level orchestra, and even a pretty big indie band (Joywave), Rochester also has music stores which would do just fine on either coast of the country.  In particular, House of Guitars (HOG) has established itself as an actual destination for music lovers.

You won't find the following at HOG:

  • Seminars on organizational skills.
  • Lovey-dovey customer service.
  • Design workshops.

On the other hand, HOG offers enough to have the following resume:
  • Aerosmith, Peter Gabriel, Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, and Metallica are a few examples of customers.
  • HOG has been featured by Esquire, People, and The Wall Street Journal.
  • The 2003 feature by Esquire named HOG the second stop on its "Roadmap to Musical America."  The roadmap included the top 50 record stores, radio stations, and places to see live music.
  • With perhaps 30,000 - 40,000 guitars, a massive amount of music, and an inspiring "photo gallery," HOG can be described as a music store, maze, or museum...all would be accurate.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Geva Theatre Center

Another big-city institution in the small town of Rochester is Geva Theatre Center (or is it Theater Centre?).  Geva, located in downtown Rochester, is considered a prominent regional theater.  To be honest, I have no idea what a regional theater means - according to Wikipedia, a regional theater in the United States most often refers to a professional theater outside of New York City.  In any event, it's safe to say that Geva is an anchor institution in Rochester's cultural landscape:

  • Geva is the most attended regional theater in New York State and has been one of the top 25 regional theaters in the country for ticket sales.
  • In keeping with Rochester's artistic bent, Geva has about 10,000 season ticket holders, more than any other outlet (including sports) in Rochester.
  • Kathy Bates, Robert Downey Jr., and Samuel L. Jackson have all performed at Geva (before they were famous).
  • Over 85 plays and musicals developed at Geva have been produced across America and internationally over the past 15 years.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Strong

In keeping with the theme of big-city culture, Rochester is home to several other "big time" entities aside from the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.  As an example, The Strong National Museum of Play is widely recognized as one of the best children's museums in the country:

  • Forbes, Parents magazine, Fodor's Travel, and Reader's Digest are just a handful of media outlets that have ranked The Strong as a top 12 children's museum in the country.
  • The Strong has been distinguished as the second largest children's museum nationally.
  • The museum houses the National Toy Hall of Fame, with 56 toys having been inducted thus far.
  • The museum is now also home to the World Video Game Hall of Fame.  The buzz regarding this latest entity has been noted by the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.
  • The Strong publishes its own peer-reviewed journal called the American Journal of Play.
  • As an added bonus, the museum has a year-round indoor butterfly garden. 

A warning to parents: the first three times in this museum can be fun.  After that, I highly recommend stopping here or here on the way.

Monday, May 4, 2015

George Eastman House

Several metropolitan areas that are not considered vast population centers advertise themselves as having big-city culture with small-town charm.  Rochester is one such region that has been known to lay claim to this label.  But many would argue that these metro areas are in reality heavy on the "small town" and light on the "big city." Does Rochester actually offer big-city culture?

As just one of numerous examples, the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film can suit the tastes usually assigned to regions ten times the size of Rochester:

  • The George Eastman House is the world's oldest photography museum.
  • The institution was the first photography museum to be selected for inclusion in the Google Art Project.
  • The photography collection includes two of the major photographic documents of the American Civil War.
  • The third largest motion picture archive in the U.S. is located in the museum.  The archive equals that of the Museum of Modern Art (New York City) and is surpassed only by the Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.) and the UCLA Film & Television Archive (Los Angeles).