Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Needs and Wants

Do you shop at Wegman’s in Columbia?

I do. Well, actually, Instacart brings my orders to me most of the time these days.

Do you purchase wine, beer, or spirits on a regular or semi-regular basis?

I don’t.  I occasionally get a drink when I’m at a party or in a restaurant. But that’s about it.

But enough about me, what about you?

Would you like to be able to have the convenience of doing your grocery shopping at Wegman’s and then being able to pop in a nearby liquor store as a part of your trip? Do you think that our community overall supports being able to take advantage of such an opportunity?

If you have followed the story of Wegman’s and a possible liquor store on their second floor, you know it goes back to the opening of the store. The folks at Wegman’s thought that having an accompanying liquor store would be a welcome service for their customers. But, between the law in the state of Maryland, a perfectly dreadful management choice, plus well-funded opposition from area liquor stores, the first go-round was a disaster. The license was denied with the pronouncement that such a store was “not necessary for the accommodation of the public.”

A lot has changed since then. Tom Quick of Cindy’s Spirits in Elkridge took an interest in the project. As a local and proven liquor store owner he has put in quite some time preparing a plan that meets the legal requirements. On July 24th, at 6:30 pm, in the George Howard Building, the Liquor Board will meet to hear testimony, examine the plan, and move forward in making a decision.

The new plan completely separates the Wegman’s space from the liquor store space, helping to meet the legal requirement for the establishments to be two separate and independent entities. A different manager/operator (Quick) with local roots and plenty of applicable experience solves the problem of competent and believable management. But, that well-funded opposition group still remains. They are wary of competition.

So what do you think? Should the loudest voice at the table on July 24th be that of paid advocates? Or should the voices of community members/consumers have at least an equal share of the conversation?

Do you see this new store as filling a need for consumers? If you do, you’ll have to show up on July 24th to make your opinions known to the Liquor Board. This is definitely a “vote with your feet” event. No phoning it in. If you see this as an issue of offering consumer choice, then you will need to be a consumer that chooses it. Not later, if they open, but now, so they can get approval.

It may be that the community will not turn out in support. Time will tell. If they don’t it will be easy for the powers that be to repeat that this venture is “not necessary for the accommodation of the public.”

Even though I don’t have any particular use for a liquor store near Wegman’s I feel compelled to get the word out so that people can make up their own minds. (Tell your friends.)

For a bit more information, here’s a short slide show (made by me) about the plan for Loft Wine & Spirits:


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