Wesley’s: Bringing the American Shopping Experience to Lebanon

Many of you are aware of my American upbringing and recent relocation to Lebanon some five years ago. Having grown up in the so-called Land of Opportunity, I was privy to constant food product innovation from giants such as PepsiCo, Nestle, and General Mills. 


No country can outdo the US when it comes to lip-smacking chips

Don’t get me started on the wealth of cereal boxes and bars that would flood grocery store shelves and launch me into a mental tug-of-war. I’d spend hours in a salubrious trance ogling the packaging, nutrition facts, and story behind each new creation.


An endless array of cereal varieties leaves me spellbound


With the move to Lebanon, grocery store trips just haven’t been the same. Most supermarkets lack the Americanesque breadth of inventory, the abundance of choices, and more importantly the presence of revolutionary products fresh off the FDA approval rack.

I mean, sure, Spinney’s imports European labels like Belle France and Tesco. TSC Signature counts a handful of organic goods from the UK and Australia.

But who’s stocking their shelves with the fun stuff from the grand US of A, where arguably the world’s most trailblazing products are born? 

I’m talking about good-for-you protein Kind Bars crafted exclusively from nuts, grains, and fruits. 

And how about Artisana Organics’ raw coconut butter that has taken the health world by storm for its important nutritional benefits and versatility? 

Where can we unearth guayusa, a super-leaf native to Ecuador that has been touted for its anti-aging powers and clean, focused energy?

Yeah, I thought so.

And then I met Wesley’s. A major wholesaler of American products, Wesley’s flagship store is nestled in Jnah, with an express outlet in Jal el Dib and a massive three-story stronghold due to be unveiled in Hazmieh next month.


Wesley's Jnah


Wesley’s is hardly new to the Lebanese grocery scene. In fact, in 2001 the Berrou family, who operate Wesley’s via the Farentina Trading Company, transplanted from Southern California to Beirut – same route I exacted! – and yearned to import the American shopping experience with them. In 2013, the family rebranded their importing empire to Wesley’s Wholesale, in honor of owner Kayed Berrou’s deceased brother-in-law Wesley Stone.

Berrou, wife Junella, and their three daughters Farrah, Haya, and Jenny, all play a vital role in running the grocery enterprise. In fact, on any given day of the week, saunter into the Jnah store from 8:30 am to 8:30 pm, and you’re bound to bump into one or several members of the clan.



Junella and Farrah Berrou at Wesley's Jnah


Equally valuable as the products they import is that distinctly American hospitality: the family and staff they employ are effusively friendly, helpful, and all smiles. You actually wouldn’t mind wiling away an hour or two lost in the wide aisles, devouring each product with your eyes as you seek grocery edification.


Wesley's Wholesale resembles a warehouse


Think of a Costco with its iconic, warehouse-style floor-to-ceiling shelves stacked high with gourmet products sold in bulk. Wesley’s carries both the essentials and the more adventurous products, the ones that put the punch in grocery shopping. You can even bank on finding the Kirkland Signature line, Costco’s private label, which features everything from Himalayan pink salt grinders to jumbo jars of cashews.


Wesley's carries Costco private label Kirkland Signature


Note the square cashew containers--that's to maximize shelf space!


And that’s not all. Besides edibles, Wesley’s sells health and beauty supplies, household appliances, apparel, baby care products, toys, auto care, and more. In the spirit of a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods Market that you’d find in the US, there are product tastings to acquaint shoppers with novel items or provide a bit of cooking inspiration. You can also help yourself to freshly brewed American coffee as soon as you enter the store. Talk about a pumped-up shopping experience!


Lotions and creams

Kids' bath and shower paraphernalia

Housecleaning products


If you’re still here reading this, I hope it’s because you’re stuck in traffic on your way to Wesley’s. Trust me when I say, your gourmet self will be in foodie heaven the minute you flutter past those automatic sliding doors.

Just be sure you stop and smell the welcome coffee. 


Yup--they even sell ground coffee!


Wesley's Wholesale
Jnah, 01-834 411
Jal el Dib, 04-714 094

Comments

  1. I will be paying them a visit this weekend! You took me back to Canada, it was called "The Price Club" when i used to live there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, in the US it was formerly known as Price Club, too!

      Delete
  2. surprisingly, we have a lot of these stores in Ghana... So much so that Kirkland and other Costco goods are household names here...
    Now I know where to go when I'm in Lebanon and I need my fix...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's wonderful! Actually Wesley's wholesales a variety of imported products to other local retailers. So if you do see Kirkland Signature elsewhere around town, they likely were brought by way of Wesley's.

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  3. Thank you so much for this, Danielle.

    Allow me to rant about the many products sold in Lebanon that are purported by many merchants to be “American” and “original.”

    Take the fabric softener Downy, for example. How many believe the one at Spinney’s is original? If it were truly made by Procter & Gamble, what happened to its viscosity and consistency, the no-mess cap/lid, the picture on the bottle? Has its manufacturing and distribution been relegated to another country in the Middle East? Syria, maybe? Am I the only one who believes that this ain’t the same Downy one would buy at Ralphs or Vons or Walgreens? Or is that my neurosis talking?

    I was happy to see the household cleaners aisle. Did I see Tilex there? :-)) And, by the way, during your visit, did you happen to see Goo-Gone or De-Solv-It? Every now and then I try my luck with various floor managers at Bou-Khalil and Spinney’s and ask them about these products, only to receive the same perplexed looks.

    I am going to Wesley's

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I promise you won't be disappointed, Samir. Wesley's carries all the real deals, freshly imported from the USA. No imitations, no crappy knockoffs.

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  4. Hi Samir :) Danielle is right - imitations and knockoffs are the cardinal sins of a trustworthy retail/wholesale business.

    You're not imagining things. Sometimes products that are under the same mother brand (P&G, Unilever, etc) are manufactured elsewhere so they aren't 100% identical to their versions that are produced in the USA. Ingredients, quality, and the overall experience of the product (even taste) can differ based on the country of origin.

    At Wesley's, we make sure to import American products that are manufactured/produced in the USA only. Our Italian, Spanish, or British brands are from those countries respectively as well. We can't compromise the American shopping experience by importing American products that aren't actually made there because you can tell the difference even if it's minor - as you said above. If you have any product requests or suggestions in particular that you can't find on our shelves, shoot us a message on our Facebook page and we'll look into it. If the brand meets our standards of excellence and we can bring it over, we will.

    Hope to see you soon!

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  5. Hi, Wesley is great but I just wish to see all American beauty brands, lotions, perfumes, makeup etc...like St. Ives products, NOW solutions, everything a women needs form the US

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We're doing what we can to get as many of the top brands over here. We have some St.Ives products already. Getting everything a woman needs from the US is a tall order though, it'll take time :)

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    2. Getting "what a woman needs" is a tall order not just for Wesley's but for the entire human race. ;-))

      Delete

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