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