One-Stop Beverage Shops: Total Wine and BevMo Come to Washington State



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.

Comparison

THE FACTS Total Wine BevMo!
In their own words “America’s Wine Superstore” “Your Neighborhood Beverage Store”
Founded 1991 1994
Headquarters Maryland California
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
Wines 8,000 3,100
Beers 2,500 1,000
Spirits 3,000 1,600
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

Conclusion

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

Reader's Comments

  1. Greg Tuttle | July 24th, 2012 at 8:12 am

    Thanks for the nice writeup, I’m glad you got to enjoy the pre-opening event, it was real blast!
    We look forward to seeing you and your readers again soon.
    Shoot me a note or tweet me and I’d love to set you both up with a free pass (+1) to attend one of our beer, wine or spirits classes.
    Cheers,
    Greg Tuttle
    Manager, social business
    Twitter: @TotalWine
    Facebook:
    http://www.facebook.com/TotalWineandMore
    http://www.facebook.com/TWMSeattle

  2. Troy | July 24th, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Great write up Kori!

    I was really impressed with the prices and selection at Total Wine. One thing that I thought was very creative and inspiring was that for a lot of Washington wines, they had a little shelf talker next to them that said “Winery Direct” meaning that they bought the wine directly from the winery rather than through a distributor. It was inspiring because that means that they’re going out of their way to show that they’re supporting the local wineries as much as possible. They even had some hard to find wines there at reasonable prices.

    I’ve been to Total Wine a few times now and each time I’ve asked a different staff member about some random Washington wines, and found that they didn’t really know much about the smaller wineries, but knew enough about the big boys (Ste Michelle, Columbia Crest, even Betz). They’ll get there eventually, but they just can’t compete for knowledge like the folks in the local wine shops and places like Wine World or Esquin. I do love the prices there, but I still get the feeling like it’s more of a grocery store than a wine store. At the same time though, I can see why the smaller wine shops have a reason to be concerned.

  3. Kori | July 24th, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Greg,
    Thanks. Keep up the good work!

    Troy,
    Thanks for sharing your experiences at Total. I, too, was glad to see their “Winery Direct” offerings. Hopefully, as time goes on, their staff will get to know even more about Washington wines.

    Cheers!

  4. Wineguy | November 18th, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Total Wine and their so called “winery direct” program actually hurts small wineries. The truth is most states require
    A 3 tier system so no matter what the wines go through a distributor, the difference is, Total wine actually owns the labels they call winery direct meaning they get higher margins. They clear these personal wines thoigh a distributor directly to there stores.

    Long story short, they advertise huge discounts on name brands such as Kendall Jackson, Grey Goose, Molly Dooker, but when you walk in their staff is trained to sell you their private labels. Kitchen Sink, Martin Ray, Angeline, Cult Cab, do these sound familiar? These are some of the popular private labels that their staff are told to sell to Gullible customers.

    The result are honest hardworking wineries who have there brands used as part of a Bait and Switch by Total Wine are actually hurt because Total doesn’t want to sell their brands and other retailers in the area cant sell the brands either because Total lowered the value so much.

    Very smart stategy by Total Wine, but in my opinion a little dishonest

  5. Greg Tuttle | November 19th, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Please know that Total Wine & More does not “own the labels”, and that our WineryDirect program includes wineries that sell their wine via the three tier system to Total Wine and to other retailers.

    You will see many of the brands we carry that fall under the high-value WineryDirect program can be found elsewhere – in fact, three that you single out – Martin Ray, Angeline and Cult – are available nationally, they are not exclusive to us. We love to sell all of the products within our vast selection, to best provide what our customers want. Many of the wines in our WineryDirect offering are from winemakers that we are proud to have helped establish as the best-in-the-business.
    Cheers,
    Greg Tuttle
    Manager, social business

  6. Kori | November 19th, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Wineguy,
    I hope that Greg’s comment helped to answer any questions or concerns you have about Total’s WineryDirect program. He is certainly in a position to explain it better than I could. However, I will say that in our area, we have found them to have the best selection and prices on both wine and spirits of the brands we are often looking to buy. So, as I said in my original post, I believe they are a great addition to our market.

    Greg,
    Thanks for commenting and clarifying Total’s WineryDirect program.

    Cheers!

  7. Ruhia Crumbaugh | May 4th, 2013 at 3:10 am

    I love the side by side comparison sheet, gives a great non biased perspective on each stores strengths and weaknesses. Rare to find in reviews involving wine and spirits.

  8. Kori | May 6th, 2013 at 11:59 am

    Ruhia,
    Thanks so much! Glad you found it helpful. Cheers!

  9. Amber | January 25th, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    Hmm, yeah I was in a Total Wine today and saw “Winery Direct” Washington wines like Brain Carter, Cadence, Otis Kenyon, Sheridan, Convergence Zone, etc and I KNOW that these are independently owned, family wineries–not owned by any chain store. I don’t know what this Wineguy is talking about?!?!?

    Personally, I think its great to see a big chain like Total Wine so prominently featuring these small Washington wineries. It can only help increase the profile of wines made from our state.

  10. Kori | January 27th, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Amber,
    Thank you for sharing your observation after visiting Total Wine. I completely agree. Cheers!

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