A national wine superstore with big plans for the Twin Cities has run into a delay.
Total Wine & More had planned to open its first Minnesota location in Bloomington on Dec. 5, in time for much of the holiday season. But the City Council last week put off a vote on Total Wine's liquor license until a Dec. 16 meeting.
The vote was delayed after Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson received from the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association a stack of Total Wine-related court cases in other states. "It's a massive amount of data," she said, "but we have to review it before we can grant a license."
Total Wine sees the delay as an attempt by competitors to slow it down, said Ed Cooper, vice president of public affairs and community relations for Maryland-based Total Wine. "They hate our low prices and fanatic adherence to providing incredible service to our customers," he said.
Cooper said that many of the lawsuits are efforts to hamper Total Wine's efforts to drive down prices. "Our competitors don't like that," Cooper said.
Johnson confirmed that many of the lawsuits involve Total Wine suing a competitor or attacking state laws that it believes are too protective of local businesses. "There are a lot of lawsuits," she said. "But Total Wine has more than 90 locations, so it's due to their size."
The Beverage Association said in an e-mailed statement that it is interested in "a full and fair hearing with all the facts in front of the City Council."
Whether Total Wine will be able to open in December, even if the City Council approves a license at its December meeting, is unknown, Cooper said. After a local license is granted, it must be approved by the state. No liquor deliveries can be made until all licenses are in place, Johnson said.
Total Wine plans to open five to eight superstores in the Twin Cities, including a Bloomington location next to Trader Joe's, and a Roseville location next to Babies 'R' Us by next spring.