Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

January 12, 2013

Another View: Beer, wine tasting may help sales

If we want a glass of beer or wine away from home, we head for a bar or a restaurant.

But a supermarket?

Hiller's Market, with stores in Washtenaw, Wayne and Oakland counties, expects to open a new store in Lyon Township in Oakland's southwestern corner in the spring, with a space for imbibing. The township's board of trustees has approved a tavern license.

We can imagine a joke or two, maybe imagining shopping cart collisions in the store and parking lot.

But the tavern license was approved with a designated tasting area in mind, although imbibing may not be limited to tasting. The chain's attorney, John Carlin, said it's a new trend in upscale markets "where you can sit down and eat a meal and have a glass of beer or wine."

The township's downtown development authority director, Michelle Aniol, believes it's unique in the region.

Township officials also approved package beer and wine licenses for the store.

A dining area at a supermarket which sells prepared food isn't new: We've seen them in stores from Whole Foods to Meijers.

But adding alcoholic beverages?

We wonder if the concept might grow. If the beverages weren't required to be confined in a certain part of the store, wouldn't a glass of wine be a gracious addition to the women's clothing area of an upscale department store? That could increase sales, perhaps the more so if it included seating for bored spouses. A beer to sip while pushing the cart through a big-box home improvement store?

A flute of bubbly at the florist's?

New cart designs with the requisite glass holder? In the outfitting store, a camo koozie?

If the local and state officials are OK with the concept and if the market's owners understand their responsibilities and liabilities, then we don't see a problem.

It may increase sales.

But we hope it doesn't spread to some of those stores we were kidding about. Things might get messy.

The Oakland Press, Pontiac

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