Supermarket bars transform shopping from chore to cheery
January 31st, 2013
11:15 AM ET
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Your household may have to fight over who gets to do the next grocery run, especially if more than one of you enjoys an adult beverage.

As grocery stores look for new ways to bring in shoppers, one innovation has been the addition of beer and wine bars that allow customers to enjoy a drink while they collect their groceries.

Whole Foods Market has embraced this idea with approximately 70 stores across the country offering numerous beers on tap and different wines to explore.

"We wanted to change the shopping experience. It's not just a chore, but an experience," said Doug Bell, national wine and beer buyer for Whole Foods Market.

Four years since the opening of its first in-store bar, Bell says it has been a great way to engage shoppers and give them an opportunity to taste things they may have not thought to buy, as well as to educate their customers.

"We wanted to build a sense of community in our stores and these venues help offer that," said Bell.

Many grocery stores have looked for ways to create an atmosphere that makes the store more of a destination then just the location to do a quick errand. Jo Natale, director of media relations for the Wegmans grocery chain, explained that they look to provide choices to customers not just in the food they offer, but the experiences they can have. In addition to a market cafe for dining in or take out, the 81 store chain also offers on-site cooking classes, celebrity chef appearances, food demonstrations, and live music in their cafe areas.

"We often hear from customers that it is a place where they take out of town guests," said Natale.

Perhaps the idea of having a drink while shopping may seem unusual to some people, but Bell said it's not the first time such a thing has been implemented. "Twenty years ago it was unusual to walk into a beauty salon and see someone with a glass of Champagne. Times change."

The Whole Foods Market in Washington, D.C.'s Tenleytown neighborhood added bar service last October and shoppers have supported the new addition.

“I hate grocery shopping, so if I can actually walk around and drink a beer, it makes it a lot less painful,” said shopper Lori Rattan.

"We have a nice group of folks who come after work for the happy hour specials," said Meg McGarry, the store's marketing team leader. "Customers seem to enjoy that they can relax and have a beer and do their shopping at the same time."

The Tenleytown store has even added cup holders that can accommodate a pint glass to some of its carts, making it even easier to roam the aisles with a drink.

When it comes to the operation of the bar, shoppers shouldn't expect to see just any of the stores employees jump behind and serve someone a pint. McGarry noted that a small team has been specifically trained and certified to serve alcohol in the stores.

While McGarry has seen a mix of people enjoying a drink in the store, she does find it heavily favored by one demographic.

"As cliché as it seems, there are a lot of men who say 'I won't mind doing the shopping now.'"

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soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Kenza Itzik

    Fantastic issues altogether.I was very pleased to seek out this Post.I wanted to thanks on your time for this wonderful learn!!I love to do shopping in supermarket because it is the place where we can find the everything we want .
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    March 30, 2013 at 1:50 am | Reply
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    February 21, 2013 at 12:12 am | Reply
  3. baguetteandbutter

    I do believe that it is a good idea for advertising beer and wine. It is true many people, including myself would not purchase something at random and hope that it is enjoyable. I however do not really like the idea of people drinking and shopping. While I do not necessarily dislike the idea. I feel that you need to pay attention to what you are shopping for, let the food be the experience. Drinking would only mask this experience.

    February 6, 2013 at 5:48 pm | Reply
  4. bill

    this is old news. 30 years ago schweggmans (sp) grocery in the new orleans area had a bar inside the store. made shopping for groceries a pleasure

    February 5, 2013 at 4:51 pm | Reply
  5. CC

    Can you say DUI waiting to happen!

    February 5, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Reply
  6. Cori

    So....will police officers be stationed at the exit? Because this is plain and simple a recipie for disaster. "Sorry oossiffer, I had to run out for groceries, got drunk...." Really? Our lives are so stressful we can't navigate the grocery store without a drink? Really?

    February 5, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Reply
  7. rad666

    Men, get there and meet drunk, bored housewives during the day while their husbands are at work.

    February 5, 2013 at 9:52 am | Reply
  8. jake

    I've been to the Whole Foods in Encino, CA that has a bar & tapas. I don't think it's meant for people to drink & shop, actually, I don't think you're allowed to take the alcoholic beverage out of the eating area. Whole Foods has areas that are more of a coffee house/restaurant than an actual grocery store. Part of the marketing seems more to get single professionals to stop in multiple times a week, even multiple times a day. A lot of young people don't cook at all, they just get ready to eat meals at Whole Foods. That's not something a Krogers in the midwest is going to do. Families that shop on a budget for groceries once a week using coupons are not going to care about Whole Foods tapas menu & imported bear on tap.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:33 am | Reply
  9. BB Gramma

    And to think we don't have enough of an alcohol problem in this country! I don't drink except a bit of wine, and even that is rarely. But to each his own. I LIKE to do my grocery shopping!

    February 4, 2013 at 7:49 pm | Reply
  10. empresstrudy

    Drunk at Food Lion. Awesome.

    February 4, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Reply
  11. Valerie

    This is a ruse to get you to spend more money. That's it. Even mildly intoxicated people will make more impulse purchases. Just like the waitresses in Las Vegas walking around the casino handing out "free drinks"....same thing. People gamble more with alcohol in them.

    February 4, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Reply
  12. alex

    Depends upon the time of day...if I'm shopping around 5 or 6p.m. I might enjoy tasting some wines. But I don't want the wines poured in little plastic cups as I had in one Whole Foods wine tasting event...Yuck!

    February 4, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Reply
  13. palintwit

    And now every Piggly Wiggly south of the Mason-Dixon line will be serving Everclear along with the roadkill. A teabagger's paradise indeed.

    February 4, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Reply
  14. val

    OMG...it is totally *ludicrous* for folks to drink alcohol whilst shopping...for one thing, these food stores have to pay thousands of dollars for the liquor license...and guess who pays for THAT? The shoppers! Our Whole Foods here added a bar (and the store is located in a mall that has like 70 bars) and then their in-store specials all disappeared. It's all about loosening up the shopper so they buy more goods, that's what I think. And hardly "health promoting." ugh...greed is what it is.

    February 4, 2013 at 12:28 pm | Reply
    • Valerie

      Oh my gosh, I just wrote basically the same thing and my name is Val too....hehehe! I agree with you- this is so greedy it is disgusting!

      February 4, 2013 at 3:35 pm | Reply
      • val

        heh, the 2 Vals are in agreement! :-)

        February 4, 2013 at 3:46 pm | Reply
  15. Turtle

    One of the reasons I choose to drive 20 miles out of my way to go to Wegmans instead of the 10 or so closer supermarkets. I don't always have the extra time to make it there, but when I do I see it more as an experience than a chore. I like making a lazy day out of it where I can grab lunch and then shop. I can also pick up a 6 pack or two. My only regret is that the better Wegman's with the bar/restaurant is further away. It might be time to move.

    February 4, 2013 at 11:26 am | Reply
  16. sam stone

    have a cannabis cookie before you go

    February 4, 2013 at 5:36 am | Reply
  17. Tekbit

    Booze in the Grocey Store? Who's going to check out the people before they use the self Check-Out?

    February 3, 2013 at 9:40 pm | Reply
  18. Jacob

    My first stop at Central Market before grabbing a buggy is the customer service counter for a couple Shiners.

    February 3, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Reply
    • Scott

      Try some better beer – up on the shelf to the right.

      February 4, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Reply
  19. bobber

    Please remember to drink in moderation. As alcohol is bad for the liver. Since hospital bills are high and not many have insurance. It is best to be careful. So that means no smoking and drinking.

    February 3, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Reply
    • Shaun Smith

      I assume your screenname indicates what you DO approve of?

      February 3, 2013 at 8:42 pm | Reply
  20. empresstrudy

    And yet the cashiers will STILL look down their noses at the wine drinkers and beer snobs.

    February 2, 2013 at 5:50 pm | Reply
  21. Blacksuperman

    Whole Foods Lincoln Park has an insanely popular wine bar in the middle of the 80,000 sq ft store. They also have a very popular draft beer and kombucha bar front of store. They are adding a bar upstairs soon. Money $$$. Great revenue source and HIGH profit margin.

    February 2, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Reply
  22. Penelopanter

    I just got paid $6784 working on my laptop using these simple steps leaked on this web page. Make up to $85 per hour doing simple tasks that are so easy to do that you won't forgive yourself if you don't check it out! Payments are paid every Friday! Here is what I've been doing Big44.ℂOM

    February 1, 2013 at 11:07 pm | Reply
  23. AleeD®

    We drank for a time while doing laundry at our apartment's laundromat. All went tell 'til we lost a load. <;-} Went back thru all the machines, found the lost load and had to stay 45 minutes longer thru that last dryer cycle. While I would enjoy sipping a Jack 'n' diet while grocery shopping, I think I'd hold it to just one.

    February 1, 2013 at 6:50 am | Reply
  24. gen81465

    As Willy Wonka once said, "Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker."

    January 31, 2013 at 11:46 pm | Reply
    • Ogden Nash

      You, sir, have mis-attributed my prose. I would deem you a two "l" llama, and send a pack of Assyrians down upon you like a wolf on the fold, but then, I would never use those words... in jest... a second time.

      February 4, 2013 at 3:46 pm | Reply
  25. Truth™

    This way, when you get bagged, you will have your choice of paper or plastic...:)

    January 31, 2013 at 12:44 pm | Reply
  26. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    Next: Bars in hospital waiting rooms, DMV's, and church.

    January 31, 2013 at 12:33 pm | Reply
  27. luvkeneisha

    Reblogged this on keneishawilliams.

    January 31, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Reply
  28. Ellen

    I would if there weren't so many errors on my receipts! I am estimating 1/3 visits have errors, some as much as $20, most in favor of the market. I spoke with a manager at one store who explained they just have too many items – unacceptable! So, unfortunately for now I have to stay not just sober but alert.

    January 31, 2013 at 11:47 am | Reply

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