Weg­mans starts sell­ing wine in Down­ing­town

The Rochester, N.Y.-based chain plans to have wine sales in all of its Penn­syl­va­nia stores by Thanks­giv­ing

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - By Brian McCul­lough bm­c­cul­lough@21st-cen­tu­ry­media. com @wc­dai­ly­lo­cal on Twit­ter

EAST CALN » Weg­mans’ em­ploy­ees and state rep­re­sen­ta­tives who have been push­ing for it popped the cork Fri­day on pri­vate wine sales at the pop­u­lar Down­ing­town area su­per­mar­ket.

The su­per­mar­ket is one of the early Weg­mans in Penn­syl­va­nia to be­gin sell­ing wine but all 17 will soon fol­low suit, store man­ager Kurt Husebo said in the café sec­tion of the store where beer has been sold since 2008. All Weg­mans in the state will sell wine by Nov. 17, he added.

“Our cus­tomers are ex­cited about it,” Husebo said. “We would like to of­fer any­thing that would add con­ve­nience for our cus­tomers.”

Shop­pers can pur­chase three liters, or an av­er­age of four bot­tles of wine at a time, but must check out at the café reg­is­ters as beer pur­chasers do.

Weg­mans is the sec­ond su­per­mar­ket chain in the area to be­gin sell­ing wine un­der the state’s new liquor laws. Two weeks ago, Acme an­nounced its Con­cordville store be­gan sell­ing wine, join­ing an Acme in Gran­ite Run to of­fer wine for sale. Eight more Acmes in the Philadel­phia area, in­clud­ing one in Devon, will be added to the list by the end of the year, ac­cord­ing to news reports. The Gi­ant in Ex­ton also has been ap­proved for wine sales, ac­cord­ing to the Penn­syl­va­nia Liquor Con­trol Board.

At Weg­mans, Down­ing­town joined Mont­gomeryville, King

“We would like to of­fer any­thing that would add con­ve­nience for our cus­tomers.”

– Weg­mans Down­ing­town man­ager Kurt Husebo

of Prus­sia and Al­len­town as lo­ca­tions in the re­gion now sell­ing wine.

The stores will of­fer from 400 to 800 va­ri­eties for sale. Husebo said the Down­ing­town store started with 400 but will ex­pand in the fu­ture.

“We just wanted to get it in be­fore the hol­i­days,” he ex­plained.

Weg­mans’ Me­chan­ics­burg store be­came the first su­per­mar­ket in the Greater Har­ris­burg re­gion to sell wine in early Septem­ber, part­ner­ing with the PLCB on a lim­ited-as­sort­ment pi­lot to help re­fine the pro­cess for fore­cast­ing prod­uct de­mand, or­der­ing, and de­liv­ery. The Har­ris­burg area store re­cently con­cluded the pi­lot and rolled out a full se­lec­tion of wines, in­clud­ing many Penn­syl­va­nia wines, Weg­mans said.

“Our cus­tomers have been ask­ing when wine will be avail­able for sale for weeks,” said Blaine Forkell, Weg­mans’ Penn­syl­va­nia di­vi­sion man­ager. “I think they are go­ing to be very happy with our se­lec­tion, our com­pet­i­tive prices, and the in­for­ma­tion our peo­ple will share about pair­ing wine and food.”

Michelle Nick will be the wine man­ager at the Down­ing­town store.

“We have wanted this for our cus­tomers for so long,” said Weg­mans’ Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent Ni­cole Weg­man. “The con­ve­nience of shop­ping for wine and beer in the same place you shop for food, just in time for the hol­i­days, is a win for Penn­syl­va­nia con­sumers.”

Ear­lier this sum­mer, Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law a bill loos­en­ing Penn­syl­va­nia’s liquor laws and al­low­ing some gro­cery stores to sell wine.

The re­vi­sions to Act 39 al­low restau­rant li­censees, in­clud­ing gro­cery and con­ve­nience stores, to ob­tain a per­mit al­low­ing them to sell up to four bot­tles of wine for off-premises con­sump­tion.

There are about 300 gro­cery stores statewide al­ready sell­ing beer un­der a restau­rant li­cense that are el­i­gi­ble to ap­ply for an ex­panded wine li­cense.

Join­ing su­per­mar­ket per­son­nel at the wine sales open­ing Fri­day were two area state rep­re­sen­ta­tives – Harry Lewis Jr. and Duane Milne, both Repub­li­cans who are run­ning for re-elec­tion.

“It’s a very im­por­tant be­gin­ning,” Milne said of break­ing Penn­syl­va­nia gov­ern­ment away from the liquor sell­ing busi­ness and putting into the pri­vate sec­tor. Milne, R-167th, is fac­ing a chal­lenge from Demo­crat Joe Den­ham.

“It’s all a pro­cess, let’s get this com­pleted first,” Lewis, R-74th, said of trans­fer­ring the sale of liquor to the pri­vate sec­tor. He said state store em­ploy­ees should not be con­cerned they will lose their jobs any­time soon.

“This will take time,” said Lewis, who is fac­ing Down­ing­town Mayor Josh Maxwell in his re­elec­tion bid.

Rochester, N.Y.-based Weg­mans is fam­ily owned with 91 stores in New York, Penn­syl­va­nia, New Jer­sey, Vir­ginia, Mary­land, and Mas­sachusetts.

BRIAN MCCUL­LOUGH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Weg­mans Down­ing­town store man­ager Kurt Husebo stands in front of the new wine of­fer­ings. The store be­gan sell­ing wine in the store on Fri­day.

BRIAN MCCUL­LOUGH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Some of the wines now of­fered at the Down­ing­town Weg­mans.

BRIAN MCCUL­LOUGH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Shown at Fri­day’s open­ing of wine sales at the Down­ing­town Weg­mans are, from left: wine man­ager Michelle Nick, store man­ager Kurt Husebo, state Rep. Harry Lewis Jr. and state Rep. Duane Milne.

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