By Kori ~ July 23rd, 2012.
With the passing of I-1183 and the state now out of the liquor business, beverage consumers in Washington State are finally in the driver’s seat. Now, we have a marketplace where competition will dictate selection and price.
In addition to grocery stores and other established local wine retailers getting into the spirits business, two large beverage retailers, Total Wine and BevMo, have entered the Washington market. Both Total Wine and BevMo are one-stop beverage shops and will provide consumers with even more choices.
Total Wine & More
Total Wine, based in Maryland, opened its first Washington location in Bellevue last month. Colby and I attended a pre-opening event and were very impressed. While Total Wine has over 80 stores in 13 states, I had never been in one. Total Wine calls itself “America’s Wine Superstore,” the country’s largest independent retailer of fine wine. They sell over 8,000 wines, 3,000 spirits, and 2,500 beers, as well as some specialty food items and beverage accessories.
Brothers David and Robert Trone started Total Wine in 1991 with two stores in Delaware. Total Wine is committed to offering the best wine selection at the lowest prices.
While the Bellevue store is very large (almost 30,000 sq ft), it does not feel like a warehouse. It is well appointed and has nice wood-finished floors. We were very impressed by its size, selection, the friendliness and knowledge of the staff, and the great prices on the limited number of items we spot-checked. They carry wines from every wine-producing region in the world, and I was especially pleased to see their extensive selection of Washington wines.
Total Wine has announced plans for other locations in Southcenter, Spokane, the University District, Alderwood, Silverdale, Federal Way, Tacoma, and Vancouver, Washington.
BevMo! Beverages & More
BevMo got its start in 1994 with the opening of six stores in the San Francisco Bay Area. Headquartered in California, BevMo has 118 stores in California, Arizona, and now Washington. Their first two Washington locations, in Tacoma and Silverdale, recently opened. I had the pleasure to visit both stores on a media tour.
BevMo stores are large (typically 10-15,000 sq ft) and offer a wide selection of wine, beer, and spirits but are about half the size of Total Wine stores. More of a specialty beverage retailer rather than a superstore, BevMo positions itself as a neighborhood store rather than a destination store. Rather than offer every wine you can think of, BevMo employs cellar master and world-renowned wine judge Wilfred Wong to taste between 6,000 and 9,000 wines annually to pare down the choices to around 3,000 different wines. In addition to carrying wines from around the world, BevMo offers many Washington wines. Green “Pacific Northwest Favorite” signs highlight local products.
BevMo is piloting a new store design with its Washington stores featuring a new color palate, easy to navigate aisles, covering the overstock above the shelves with curtains, and offering a growler station for beer lovers. I think customers will like what they see.
In addition to its large selection of wine, beer, and spirits, BevMo also offers specialty foods, mixers, cigars, and other beverage accessories. They also have an extensive soda selection with over 250 choices.
BevMo’s next Washington location will be in Tukwila, with three more locations anticipated before the end of the year.
|THE FACTS||Total Wine||BevMo!|
|In their own words||“America’s Wine Superstore”||“Your Neighborhood Beverage Store”|
|Store size, average||20-25,000+ sq ft||10-15,000 sq ft|
|# of stores||82||118|
|WA locations, as of 7/23||Bellevue||Tacoma and Silverdale|
|Rewards Program||None||ClubBev, free to join|
|Order online, pick up in store||Order online by 11am, ready by 4pm||Order online, ready in an hour|
|Tastings||Weekly, free||Weekly, free|
|SAMPLING OF PRICES (as of 6/30)||Total Wine||BevMo!|
|Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot (WA)||$7.27||$8.99|
|Columbia Crest Two Vines Vineyard 10 Red (WA)||$3.97||$4.99|
|Brian Carter Abracadabra Red (WA)||$17.99||$14.99|
|Saviah Cellars The Jack Red Wine (WA)||$11.99||$14.99|
|Mollydooker The Boxer Shiraz (AUS)||$17.97||$24.99|
|Las Rocas Garnacha (ESP)||$8.99||$11.99|
|Nobilo Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc (NZ)||$7.47||$8.99|
|Jose Cuervo Gold Tequila 1.75L||$22.99||$26.99|
|Beefeater Gin 1.75L||$28.99||$31.99|
|Smirnoff Vodka 1.75L||$15.99||$18.99|
|Jack Daniels Black Whiskey 1.75L||$27.99||$32.99|
Personally, I am thrilled to welcome both Total Wine and BevMo to Washington State. These stores provide consumers with more choices and competitive prices.
Each of these stores will appeal to different consumers. At the same time, there is certainly still a place for smaller neighborhood wine shops for those who like a specialty selection and a “Mom and Pop” feel. Other consumers will always shop at grocery stores because beverages are simply another item on their list. And, of course, when possible, it is always great to buy directly from the winery.
Speaking of wineries, another positive that the entrance of Total Wine and BevMo into the Washington market brings is increased national exposure for Washington wines. As these companies get to know even more about Washington wines, you can expect them to carry more Washington wines at their other stores around the country.
Both Total Wine and BevMo are stores you should check out if there is a location near you.
Filed under: American Wine, Washington State Wine, Wine Shops