Wine Sales in Grocery Stores

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Cosmos
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2009/02/10 09:23:47 (permalink)

Wine Sales in Grocery Stores

This has become a hot topic in New York State. Currently grocery stores can only sell beer, malt derived drinks and wine coolers. There has been a push spearheaded by the Wegmans company and the NY State Wineries to change the law to allow wine sales in grocery stores. Reasoning being it will expand the NY wine market and provide more jobs.

I for one am against this because it will negatively affect wine and liquor stores in the area. We have the benefit of several shops that actually are knowledgable about wines and can speak intelligently about wine types and food pairing...you're not going to get that from a teenager in a grocery store...(the same people who can't tell cilantro from parsley, or identify fresh spinach).

I'm not sure how many jobs this will create for the wineries if the people responsible for selling your product don't know all that much about it. I could see the bulk sellers of the sweeter wines doing well (Its amazing to see how much Red Cat Hazlittt Wineries sells...to each their own I guess)..

Any winos out there in states where this is common practice have any comments on you experiences? Do wine shops still exist in your state? Do grocery stores do a good job selling wine?
post edited by Cosmos - 2009/02/10 09:24:51
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    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/10 09:47:11 (permalink)
    Wine sales in grocery stores work well here. Of course, the problem with wine sales in Ohio is the fact that state law requires a huge markup. Remember two-buck Chuck? That sold in Ohio for around four bucks as a result of the law. Here's the way it works:
     
    Ohio law requires producers to mark up wine sold to distributors/wholesalers by 18 percent. Then wholesalers must mark up wine by 33.3 percent when selling to retailers. And retailers are required by state law to mark wine up 50 percent more.
    #2
    Cosmos
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/10 17:30:08 (permalink)
    Michael Hoffman

    Wine sales in grocery stores work well here. Of course, the problem with wine sales in Ohio is the fact that state law requires a huge markup. Remember two-buck Chuck? That sold in Ohio for around four bucks as a result of the law. Here's the way it works:
     
    Ohio law requires producers to mark up wine sold to distributors/wholesalers by 18 percent. Then wholesalers must mark up wine by 33.3 percent when selling to retailers. And retailers are required by state law to mark wine up 50 percent more.
    Yikes!!...well with the budget shortfall...maybe that's what Gov. Patterson has in mind for NY...

    So when you go to the grocery store...can they tell the difference between a pinot noir and a pinot gris?


    #3
    brittneal
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/10 17:40:09 (permalink)
    While not having the benefit of a somolier(you wont find one in most liquor stores either) supermarkets are a good place to go for all around wines.  I found they are cheaper then specialty wine shops for the same wine.  If you do a little inernet research, you should be able to suit your needs at a supermarket unless you need a special brand or vintage.
    It all depends on what you are looking for.
    #4
    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/10 18:07:15 (permalink)
    Cosmos

    Michael Hoffman

    Wine sales in grocery stores work well here. Of course, the problem with wine sales in Ohio is the fact that state law requires a huge markup. Remember two-buck Chuck? That sold in Ohio for around four bucks as a result of the law. Here's the way it works:

    Ohio law requires producers to mark up wine sold to distributors/wholesalers by 18 percent. Then wholesalers must mark up wine by 33.3 percent when selling to retailers. And retailers are required by state law to mark wine up 50 percent more.

    So when you go to the grocery store...can they tell the difference between a pinot noir and a pinot gris?

    Are you kidding? We're talking about a place where they can't tell the difference between parsley and eggplant.


    #5
    joerogo
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/10 18:21:37 (permalink)
    Cosmos,  The more outlets available, the better for the comsumer.(Price and selection)  NY does a great job with it's wine outlets.  Competition will only make them better.

    All States need to get their greedy little fingers out of the beer, wine and spirts market.  Especially PA. where you can only buy wine and spirts in a State owned store.
    #6
    Twinwillow
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/10 18:38:43 (permalink)
    Grocery stores all over California sell beer, wine and spirits. Including corner mom & pop's and convenience stores.
    And, if there're open, they can sell alcohol, 24/7/365.
    #7
    starfire62
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/10 21:47:16 (permalink)
    it will kill the little guy just like the stores did when they started selling meats and baked goods. no matter how much we give nys its never enough.
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    brittneal
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/10 22:28:22 (permalink)
    Just remember that grocers have a limited licence(in all the states I know).  Some states can only sell 3.2 beer-no wine or eve coolers(thats how Co, was when I left)  All the stores ive seen that do sell wine and liquor are limited to 40 proof.  That cuts out fortified wines and liquor-what they sell is watered down  to 20%  Even schnapps and Yukon Jack.  I tried the reduced alcohol southern comfort once and it was awful.
    britt
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    acer2x
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/11 00:14:41 (permalink)
    In PA the state owns and controls the sale of wine  and liquor. They have their own "Wine & Spirits Shops" but recently have opened some stores within a separate segregated leased area in super markets with their own cash registers. Wegman's has been at the forefront of an effort to sell beer within their markets but that is facing opposition from licensed beer distributors.
    #10
    Cosmos
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/11 10:41:18 (permalink)
    Here's an issue...I have lived in Chicago where they sold wine in Osco drug stores...it was all the lower grade, big jug and box stuff that, lets admit, sells the most. The problem begins when you (like me) don't drink that stuff and you want a special wine for a birthday dinner, or holiday...or your favorite $10.00 New Zealand sauvignon blanc, (or even the $12.00 jug of Australian chardonnay we tend to guzzle for that matter)...and the little shop you used to go to is no longer....or you have to drive a couple hours to find one that is still open and caters to your needs.

    Or...say I have a great bottle of wine at my brother-in-law's in Albany...I can go to my local shop and ask if they can get it...and you know what?...they actually do that, and add it to their stock and it sells well for them...Is a super market going to do that? I'm thinking not...

    #11
    acer2x
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/11 10:59:15 (permalink)
    Think again. Wegman's is famous for their customer service. In NJ, they have a wine store next to their store in Princeton. I stopped in there once and they were very helpful.

    #12
    mayor al
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/11 11:01:10 (permalink)
    Kentucky is going through a debate about expanding wine sales to "non-liquor store" markets. The grocers seem to want it, the package-store folks are fighting it.  On top of that argument the Governor wants to add a 6% (extra) sales tax to all Alcohol sold retail. There are some major battles looming over those tax issues.

    Having grown up in SoCal where all forms of Alcohol were found in almost all grocery and convenience stores, I have a tough time understanding some of the 'local option' and 'keep 'em seperate' lines of thinking by folks here in the Ohio Valley. In my train of thought State Stores would be unconstitutional!
    #13
    Davydd
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/11 11:11:59 (permalink)
    Cosmos,

    You are buying into the argument of protectionism of an industry that doesn't hold water at the expense of the consumer. If you sell wine in grocery stores then there will still be niche wine shops that will market better wines. Minnesota does not allow wine in grocery stores but groceries have created satellite wine shops with the artificial need to separate by physical walls and cash registers. That just adds to the overhead costs. Trader Joes does that and sells the very cheap Charles Shaw three buck chuck wines. Byerly's, an upscale grocer in the Twin Cities, sells wines of the quality you describe and will provide the customer service you desire. It is a pain in the A to have to check out groceries, carry them out to the car and then step back in to buy wine separately. That inconvenience doesn't exist in other Midwestern states surrounding Minnesota.

    The issue is nothing but monopoly protectionism at the expense and inconvenience of the consumer.
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    MiamiDon
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/11 11:15:35 (permalink)
    Wine is available in supermarkets here in Florida.  As far as I can tell, it works fine. 

    I used to buy all of my cheap wine at my local Publix supermarket, but in recent years the owner of the liquor store on the other side of the parking lot has made a point of offering a lot of very inexpensive wines.  I guess he makes special buys of overstocks, etc.  I do know that he buys fine wines with slightly damaged labels that the distributor can't sell to the upscale wine shops, and he then sells them at a good discount.  He also offers a selection of $50 and up wines, which the grocery stores do not.  So, I think that he beats them at the top and bottom.
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    tmiles
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/11 12:27:48 (permalink)
    In Massachusetts we have a limited number of permits in each city/town, both for "pouring" (bars/restaurants) and package stores. The permits are for all beverages or beer and wine only. No single company can own more than 3 package stores, making it hard for chains, even when a permit becomes available. Beer and wine sales at supermarkets, therefore, are available, but only at a minority of supermarkets. My regular store does have a permit, and I do buy most of the little that  I buy,with the groceries.  It seems to work.

    The battle now, is mail order wine. I don't know why the state is fighting it so hard. They lose in court and appeal. IMO, we have bigger problems. 
    post edited by tmiles - 2009/02/11 12:29:16
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    Cosmos
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/11 13:58:14 (permalink)
    Davydd

    Cosmos,

    You are buying into the argument of protectionism of an industry that doesn't hold water at the expense of the consumer. If you sell wine in grocery stores then there will still be niche wine shops that will market better wines. Minnesota does not allow wine in grocery stores but groceries have created satellite wine shops with the artificial need to separate by physical walls and cash registers. That just adds to the overhead costs. Trader Joes does that and sells the very cheap Charles Shaw three buck chuck wines. Byerly's, an upscale grocer in the Twin Cities, sells wines of the quality you describe and will provide the customer service you desire. It is a pain in the A to have to check out groceries, carry them out to the car and then step back in to buy wine separately. That inconvenience doesn't exist in other Midwestern states surrounding Minnesota.

    The issue is nothing but monopoly protectionism at the expense and inconvenience of the consumer.
    I don't see anything quite so political about it. I am not seeing a monopoly here...its not like Harbor View Liquors sells all the wine in NYS...I just think they are better suited to it than Tops or Wegmans. Why not let brake and muffler shops sell wine?

    Speaking as a selfish consumer, I am pretty confident if my local shops can't compete w/ the big boys on the cheap wines ...which makes up a lot of their sales (along with those fluoresecent colored concoctions the college kids are currently throwing up)...they will close. (believe me these folks are not getting rich as it is)..So then I won't be able to get my Lindemanns...and personally, I think that's wrong. Selfishly, I don't really see how consumers of box and jug wines are really being inconvenienced...I think they can get about 3 litres of wine for $6 or $7.00...that's a good deal as far as I am concerned...good buzz value...any cheaper than that and we'll have riots in the streets...  ;)


    post edited by Cosmos - 2009/02/11 14:04:55
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    Davydd
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/11 14:59:17 (permalink)
    Cosmos,

    With your logic all those states that allow wine sales in groceries simply would not enjoy the selection you presume to enjoy now. That does not appear to be the case.
    #18
    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/11 15:53:38 (permalink)
    Cosmos


     Why not let brake and muffler shops sell wine?


    While I don't know if they still do, I remember gas stations selling liquor and beer in California in the '50s.  I suppose brake and muffler shops could do it just as well as gas stations.


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    tfrielin
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/11 16:58:32 (permalink)

    I grew up in Alabama in the '60s when you could only buy wine and spirits (and I guess beer too?) in what we called the State Stores--Alabama Beverage Control (ABC) Stores. It was a demeaning experience as there were display cases on the left and right walls and a counter straight ahead.

    You had to make your pick from the selections in the display cases and order at the front counter where the clerk would disappear into the back room and retrieve your bottle. They evidently made it as unpleasant an expereince as possible to telegraph the message that ALCOHOL IS BAD and You are a bad person for buying it. 

    So imagine my surprise when I was in Florida in 1973 and went to a Publix where they had a fabulous selection of wine and beer right here on the grocery store shelves!

    I'm glad those old ABC Store days are long gone and I can buy my Mondavi Woodbridge Sauvingon Blanc in the grocery store. The practice had not destrotyed the small, upscale wine stores in any of the three states I have inhabited my adult life (Al, GA, and FL) and I doubt it will. Wine stores exist because there are wine afficianadoes who want and will pay for a vintage wine.

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    Cosmos
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/11 17:17:23 (permalink)
    Thanks, that's the info I am looking for. Maybe I am overreacting, but I do fear the loss of the shops I frequent...Believe me its taken forever for a reasonable selection of good wines to reach Cortland NY...I don't want to have to drive to Syracuse if I need one...I'd probably crack it open and finish it before I got home..Then the wife gets mad and its downhill from there..
    #21
    Ort. Carlton.
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/12 01:45:48 (permalink)
    Dearfolk,
       This is a debate going on right now in Tennessee: to allow wine sales in supermarkets. As it stands now, you have to buy wine in liquor stores or from a winery, and the stores can only operate in "wet" jurisdictions. Beer licenses alone are handled by the city or county governments.
       Here in Georgia, beer and wine licenses are handled locally and liquor is sold in stores in "wet" jurisdictions. Beer and unfortified wine are available in most places now, including supermarkets.
       If I wanted really good wine, I would go to a liquor store.
          Unwhiningly, Ort. in 30601-Land.
    #22
    joerogo
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/12 06:20:11 (permalink)
    Cosmos

    Thanks, that's the info I am looking for. Maybe I am overreacting, but I do fear the loss of the shops I frequent...Believe me its taken forever for a reasonable selection of good wines to reach Cortland NY...I don't want to have to drive to Syracuse if I need one...I'd probably crack it open and finish it before I got home..Then the wife gets mad and its downhill from there..

     
    Cosmos, No matter what, keep supporting your local shops.  The competition will only make them better
     
    I buy the bulk of my wine in small shops throughout NY, NJ and MA.  They do such a great job compared to "The Peoples Republic of Pennsylvania" Wine and Spirts Shops.


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    Davydd
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/12 10:03:46 (permalink)
    joerogo is right. Competition could make them better. Independent wine shops will not go away, but if grocery stores start selling wine then the independent wine shops will start differentiating with better wine selections and much better service since they will no longer be able to be indifferent to customer needs. Granted many independents may go out of business but those would have been only the ones filling a mass market need and grocery stores will do that better.
    #24
    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/12 10:53:49 (permalink)

    Independent wine shops abound in the Columbus area, despite the fact that the many supermarkets here are wine sellers, too.
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    CCinNJ
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/12 11:41:41 (permalink)
    In NJ, there is a limitation as far as grocers carrying alcohol. I think the limit is two licences per grocery market chain, (in total) for chains operating in NJ. It is usually always in a seperate (entrance) or seperate designated room that is gated  off, during off hours. Like NY, NJ is considering expanding the policy, and relaxing the limitations.
     
    Since I never been a customer of a liquor "chain" it will make no difference to me. What I do not get from a distributor, I will continue to buy from a specialty retailer. They already have my loyalty, and would rather continue the relationship, than buy the booze, at the grocery store.
     
    During my travels, I have encountered many states with different policies. I already do my specialized (personal) shopping for many products/services outside of the Supermarket. No fruit, vegetables, meats, seafoods, and most bakery products are purchased at specialty retailers. I have seen what the"competitive" (in price not knowledge or service) market has done to many of these specialty providers, and I would rather not see it happen to/in one more area.
     
    I know it is easy to say "they will not go away" but this is not always the case. Butchers, bakers, seafood markets, and fruit stands, are very rare, these days. If the specialty retailers lose the customers, they lose the market. They no longer have funds to stock the high end items, and the market becomes limited. It dumbs down the market. People buy what they see, and they see a bunch of movers and fast sellers, from buyers who do not know their ass from their elbow. Number chunchers.. The  biggest names, and the most popular sellers. Jack Daniels, Bacardi, and Absolut...period.
     
    It most certainly also has an ill effect on the restaurant industry, These very "generic" names are now used...in the terminology. Many people only know rum as Bacardi. Like no other rum exists. Sure, many people still know, the other options. They usually are the customers who either have existing knowledge in "life" or  have existing relationships in the market, and not on the shelf (or with the service), of the local grocer.
     
    In my mind it is the same "protective interest" that limits the big chain restaurants from overwhelming the restaurant market. They have been zoned out, of my city. I live in one of (if not) the most densely populated areas of the country. There are 70,000 residents, and we have one restaurant chain (not fast food)...a Houlihan's. One Mc Donald's, one BK, several Subway and Pizza chains, gone. Plenty of diners, local restaurants, pizza parlors, etc. very popular, quite established, and very busy!!
     
    If price is the only factor, the DOLLAR MENU RULES!!! People only get to know good food, when it exists, and is available.
    post edited by CCinNJ - 2009/02/12 12:30:05
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    joerogo
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/12 12:12:35 (permalink)
    Good point CC.  I guess we can say "It's like what Home Depot has done for the local lumberyards".  Many have closed, but the ones that remained are stronger and better positioned in their marketplace.
     
    I just look at Pa. with their state owned stores.  No competition, no selection,always the wrong vintage, high prices, terrible store hours, lack of locations, etc.  Then I walk into The Wine Library or Wine Legend in New Jersey and it's like heaven.
     
     
    #27
    CCinNJ
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/12 12:41:43 (permalink)
    I understand that issue, in PA. The system that has been in place in NJ, works very well. It is competitive amongst quality providers, and VERY reasonable in price. It would simply cut the very tight bottom-line for the reasonable market, that already exists. The only benefit would make the cheap stuff a little cheaper (and more popular), and one more thing to have to wait for, at the Supermarket. In turn, the cost to operate and stock, on quality level become more expensive, and limited (in quality selection). "Sorry, we now need to keep up with 7-11 so we will no longer carry any quality slower sellers, and we cannot afford the service (with sense) that you have been accustomed to, for all these years" No thank you. Not worth it, in NJ. It is not broke here, so don't tinker, with it.
     
    Yes Joe...you are correct.  NJ is heaven!!
    post edited by CCinNJ - 2009/02/12 12:49:17
    #28
    seafarer john
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/12 12:56:16 (permalink)
    The real culprit in New York State is the distributors - they have a stranglehold on every alcoholic product sold in the state. Any winery should be allowed to sell directly to retailers, thus saving us about 25 - 50 % per bottle. 

    My favorite blended Scotch, Teachers, is generally unavailable in liquor stores in my area of NY because the distributors have decided not to carry it - and they have total control over what gets onto the shelves of liquor stores.

    Cheers, John 
    #29
    Twinwillow
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    Re:Wine Sales in Grocery Stores 2009/02/12 13:09:52 (permalink)
    Similar problem here in Texas. The "distributors" and retailers have a lock on sales so no alcohol can be purchased by a consumer from an out of state retailer. We can order from a winery but not from a retailer.
    #30
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