Competition is heating up among Twin Cities liquor dealers, and consumers are benefiting from the lower prices.
It’s four stores and counting for Total Wine & More in the Twin Cities.
The Woodbury City Council recently approved the liquor license for a location in Woodbury Village. The site, at the intersection of Interstate 494 and Valley Creek Road, is expected to open in time for the holidays.
Burnhaven Mall in Burnsville is also slated to open in September, and if all goes well with the Bloomington City Council, a long-delayed location at I-494 and France Avenue will open in November or December. It is the only location that has not yet been granted a license. A Roseville store has been in operation since March.
Each of the four sites has been met with heated opposition at city council meetings from the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA), but the lobbying group for Minnesota liquor retailers has only been successful in getting a delay in Bloomington, where, if the store opens in December, it will have been delayed by a year.
At the most recent council meeting in Woodbury in late June, more than 20 MLBA supporters attended to argue against granting Total Wine its liquor license, but Council Member Julie Ohs said, “There was no valid reason to deny it. They met the requirements of the law and ordinances.”
MLBA Executive Director Frank Ball could not be reached for comment on the recent setbacks.
With MLBA’s unsuccessful attempts to block licenses in Roseville, Burnsville, and Woodbury, Total Wine appears to be on target to have five to eight stores in the Twin Cities by the end of 2015.
The Roseville store has experienced phenomenal sales since it opened, according to Ed Cooper, vice president of public affairs and community relations for Total Wine. “It’s consistently in the top 10 performing stores among the 105 nationwide, and it’s often in the top five,” he said. Cooper attributes part of the success to drawing from a larger area than expected, including western Wisconsin.
Competitors appear to have taken notice. During Haskell’s spring wine sale, it offered a coupon for an additional discount on top of its normal sale prices. “We’re in a price war on big brands that the consumer is benefiting from,” said Beau Farrell, vice president of Internet sales at Haskell’s. “We’re selling Kendall Jackson chardonnay for $8.98, and we’re paying $8.70.”
Surdyk’s just sent out a postcard to some customers offering an additional $10 off a $50 purchase during its summer wine sale. It’s a new promotion, co-owner Melissa Surdyk said. “There are bigger discounts during this sale,” she said.
Cooper said he’s noticed more aggressive pricing from the competition of late. Still, he predicts the Twin Cities will be a very good market for the wine superstore. “If Roseville is any indication, this could be one of our top markets.”
John Ewoldt • 612-673-7633