The Minnetonka City Council rejection of Target Corp.’s application for a liquor store has sent the company back to the drawing board and raised questions about the prospects for another national retailer, Total Wine & More, to enter the suburb.
The council’s vote on Aug. 17 marked the first time Target has been denied a license since it started adding liquor and wine sales to its Minnesota stores last year.
The company planned to add the liquor store as part of a $10 million remodeling of its SuperTarget store at highways 101 and 7. The revamp includes an overhaul of the grocery department but, without the liquor license, its plans for the 2,000 square feet space are now up in the air.
“We are working through new plans for that space now,” Katie Boylan, a Target spokeswoman, wrote in an e-mail.
Minnetonka currently has 11 off-sale liquor licenses and an ordinance that says 12 liquor stores are generally sufficient to serve the city.
“I think we have plenty of liquor stores in Minnetonka,” said Brad Wiersum, one of four City Council members to vote against Target’s liquor license. “The area is adequately served.”
Total Wine applied to the council for a license to build an outlet near a Whole Foods location on the north side of Interstate 394, across from Ridgedale Center. With the council’s rejection of Target, the company put its application on hold.
“We’re evaluating our next steps in Minnetonka based upon the city’s tweaking of its policy,” said Ed Cooper, vice president of community affairs for Total Wine.
The council won’t vote on Total Wine’s license until the Maryland-based liquor superstore chain formally resubmits its application.
“We’re very committed to Minnetonka,” said David Trone, Total Wine’s chief executive. “We’re definitely coming there or we’ll go to a town close by. We want to be in the north lake area.”
The company’s prospects are unclear. While the City Council rejected Target, a month earlier council members declared they weren’t going to be constrained by the ordinance limiting the number of liquor licenses to 12. They said they may consider more if a business offers “distinctive specialty service.”
Any firm applying for a liquor license needs support from five of the Minnetonka council’s seven members. Two, Wiersum and Patty Acomb, have said the 11 in the city are enough.
Another member of the council, Tony Wagner, said he believes more choices are better but hasn’t taken a stance on Total Wine, which has reshaped competition across the Twin Cities since its market entry last year.
“Total Wine has strong appeal, but it brings a lot of traffic,” Wagner said. “That doesn’t mean I would approve Total Wine. I need to look at it more closely.”
Total Wine has stores in Bloomington, Burnsville, Roseville and Woodbury. It plans to open one in Maple Grove in November and in Chanhassen next spring.
Target opened its first liquor store in Minnesota since the 1970s in Otsego last year. A St. Louis Park store opened in April. Liquor will debut at St. Paul’s Midway store in early November and Chaska in fall 2016. The company has chosen to include liquor stores in existing stores being remodeled or that have non-selling space that can be converted into a separate entrance, as in Otsego.