Big wine, beer, liquor retailer Total Wine and More to open in Bellevue next week
June 22, 2012 · Updated 10:47 AM
As if getting liquor at the grocery store wasn’t enough, Bellevue now will be the first city in the state for Total Wine and More, one of the foremost wine, beer and spirit retailers in the country.
With more than 8,000 wines, 2,500 beers and 3,000 types of spirits, Total Wine and More fancies itself the leader in both price and selection in every market it enters. The store opens June 28 at 699 120th Ave., in the spot formerly occupied by Larry’s Market and next to Uwajimaya.
Founder David Trone said the company has stores in 13 states, and with each new frontier comes new relationships with producers both local and worldwide.
“We really specialize in finding the unique family producers from all over the world that really can’t be successful elsewhere on their own,” Trone said.
Trone said Total Wine and More will carry more local wines than competitors’ entire selection.
Washington has been a target of the company for some time, Trone said. With its quality wine producers and burgeoning craft beer industry, it was a natural move for the company. But the final domino fell when voters passed Initiative 1183, allowing stores over 10,000 square feet to sell spirits.
While Total Wine and More has stores in two states - North Carolina and Virginia - that don’t allow spirit sales in grocery stores, being able to add spirits to the selection makes the business boom, Trone said.
Ed Cooper, spokesman for the company, said Bellevue was a logical target because of its high income and its diverse and well-educated populace. Customers will be surprised and excited to find that prices for spirits will not only be cheaper than in the grocery store, but also less than previous costs at state liquor stores, Cooper said.
“We strive to be the price leader in every market we are in, and we think Bellevue will be no different,” Cooper said.
With the large selection available, Total Wine and More customers are going to need some guidance, Cooper said, adding that every employee is required to undergo more than 150 hours of training to know everything there is to know about wine, beer and spirits. The company sponsors trips to Spain and France to taste international products and adventures to the Napa Valley and other domestic hot spots.
Trone and his brother have been perfecting the business for more than 20 years. In 1991, they were in the beer business in Pennsylvania, but the microbrew trend hadn’t yet arrived, leaving the industry without a lot of options. They decided to branch out into wine and spirits, and they never looked back.
More than 80 stores later, Trone said, the company is still adding to its selection. Arriving in Washington will not only benefit the company by adding new stores, but also building a relationship with local producers will help the selection nationwide.
“We want to feature Washington state wines because they are local, and they are fantastic,” he said. “Nobody outside of Texas cares about Texas wines, but Washington state wines are world class. Everybody cares about Washington state wines whether you are in Washington, California, Texas or Florida.”
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