Buying Wine, Random Musings

Total Wine Opens a Local Store: Good or Bad?

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I’ve had more than a few people tell me they will not shop at the new Total Wine that is opening in Bellevue next week. They want to exclusively support the local mom and pop wine shop.

To these people I ask the following:

  • Do you order dvd’s online from Netflix or do you only walk down to the neighborhood video store?
  • Do you order books from Amazon or do you solely use the hole in the wall book shop down the street?
  • Do you periodically have lunch at Chipotle or do you only buy your burritos at the local food cart?

If you support any of the national brands mentioned above but won’t shop at Total Wine don’t you think you are being a little hypocritical?

I will continue to buy wines like Maison Bleue, Gramercy and Reynvaan from the small local wine store . Rest assured though that if I am looking for classified growth Bordeaux like Lynch Bages or Pichon Baron I will not give a second thought to shopping at Total Wine.

For this wine consumer there is a place for both the big box wine retailer and the small local wine store.

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13 thoughts on “Total Wine Opens a Local Store: Good or Bad?

  1. The ability to maintain a boycott of big box stores on the basis of some principle is a privilege granted only to people who are at least relatively affluent, isn’t it? Big box stores provide a service in many product sectors of making goods accessible to groups that otherwise couldn’t afford them.

    I don’t think big box stores necessarily drive small independent retailers out of business. The good small retailers are able to provide a service (e.g. Extra customer attention and personal connection) that a big box store can’t provide and that some people are willing to pay for. The result is an equilibrium that provides the most utility to the most people.

  2. To the people who want to exclusively support the local mom and pop wine shop as opposed to Total Wine or other major retail chain like Costco, I ask the following question: DO YOU LIKE SAVING MONEY?

    If Total Wine, for example, offers a sizeable cost savings to the local mom and pop store, why would you not shop there? I can certainly appreciate supporting small local wine shops because strong support will enable you to obtain rare and unusual wines that you would probably be unable to get elsewhere, at any price. But overpaying at your local mom and pop shop for a common wine you could get cheaper elsewhere???? Really? That loyalty can come at a very high cost, so I am dubious when someone claims to have this kind of loyalty.

  3. I prefer to shop local because you can often have a more leisurely chat and find some products not in the big stores. But local shopping for me isn’t a moral principle so I don’t feel hypoccritical when I do shop at the big chains.

    I’m currently living in a village in S France where pretty much all the shops are local. We do have a supermarket, Intermarche, which is franchised by a local, where I go for convenience sometimes.

    As far a wine’s concerned here it’s 95%+ French with a few Italian and Spanish in evidence; there’s NO new world wine whatsoever. Most of it is very local – from within 20km. But although the choice seems very limited in comparison with UK wine stores, I find there is enough to satisfy my taste. Close by we have Domaine de Bosc as well as Domaine Coussergues both of which are top quality wines. At the cheaper end there’s a wine store in the village where you can by regular wines 5 litres for 5 euros – you take your container and they fill it up with what looks like a petrol pump.

    1. “5 litres for 5 euros – you take your container and they fill it up with what looks like a petrol pump”.

      That is awesome. Thanks for the perspective.

  4. Hey Tom, they are opening a Total Wine here in Spokane some time soon. What is the selection like? One thing about Spokane is its a grocery store wine community w/not much selection. There are a few bouquet shops but limited there too.

    1. The selling point for me on the selection at Total Wine is the depth in categories like Bordeaux and CdP that you simply can’t find at other Seattle area stores.

  5. Totally agree. I have a Total Wine about 2 minutes from my home in Florida. They offer , yes, plenty of big brands but they also work very closely with small family-owned wineries. I took a wine class there some time ago and they explained how they don’t use any middleman in the process, which is why they offer good prices. And I would think that arrangement works out well for the wineries too. *Not all big is bad.

    1. Thanks Lara! I think many people got worked up over this before the stores opened. Time will tell but I think it has been great for the consumer and as far as I can tell the small wine shops are doing business as usual.

  6. Show us some love dude! Your last invoice with us was Nov 2006, and we even provide overnight accommodations if and when you visit! The Wine Consultant is surrounded by 3 Total Wines and at least as many Bevmo….you can not beat our personal service, competitive pricing, and product knowledge. Most of the product found at BEVless or TotalBore is from the 3 major distributors so it is fairly mainstream and quite easy to avoid duplicating. We choose to have direct relationships with wineries and importers. We are small “Mom and Pop”, not in the same category as big corporate Netflix or Amazon, but if you can order from them, then why aren’t you ordering from us? 22 years in business and we have many NW customers! Nice blog Tom!

    1. Eric, we are definitely due to share a bottle or three. In regards to the Total Wines, etc…I buy most my wine direct from the wineries. I do appreciate stores like the Wine Consultant for all the reasons you mentioned. You know if I lived in Sacramento still I would be there every Friday night. The problem in Seattle is that there are simply no small stores that stock Bordeaux, CdP, Barolo, etc at fair prices. When I purchase these wines I shop at the Wine Exchanges and Total Wines of the world.

      By the way…you are overdue for a trip to Seattle as well.

      Thanks for the compliment on the blog!

  7. Just found your blog and could use some input. We’re 8 weeks away from buying an established wine shop in Asheville NC and I find out that Trader Joes and it’s 2buckChuck is opening a mile away. The wine shop experience is a world apart but from the retailers I’ve talked to a big chunk of their revenues come from under $20 bottles. Sure we’ll offer tastings, personal service, knowledge and environment, but we won’t be selling chevre and chili pretzels. I’m worried we’ll lose a lot of business. Grateful to have discovered this now but trying hard to assess the potential impact to a business we’re close to owning. Area wine stores exist but maybe they’re all about to get punched by the addition of a TJ’s. Any thoughts?

    1. Hi Diane, thanks for visiting. I have never been impressed with the wine selection at Trader Joes and given the choice would always take my business to a local wine store. See the comment above from Eric Stumpf as well. His store thrives with many big box wine stores in the vicinity. Please keep me apprised on how it goes. Best of luck!

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