Total Wine & More Opens First Store in Minnesota

Updated: 03/14/2014 6:53 AM
Created: 03/13/2014 4:36 PM
By: Josh Rosenthal

David, meet Goliath.

"Really retailers who don't want to compete on price, don't want to compete on service, don't want to compete on selection are really afraid of competition," said Robert Trone, the co-owner of Total Wine & More, the Goliath in this analogy. They sell more than 8,000 types of wine, 3,000 spirits, and 2,500 beers at their new Roseville location, which opened Thursday.

"I think we're much like a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe's or a Costco," said Trone. "We're something different, we're something unique."

Total Wine has more than 100 stores around the country. The Roseville location is their first in Minnesota. Meanwhile, about a quarter-mile up the road, Fairview Wine & Spirits has been around for 29 years.

"We weren't happy when we heard that they were coming into Roseville," explained Fairview Owner Stephen Burwell, "but we've been faced with a lot of competition over the years."

Total Wine & More is why groups like the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association - which represents a lot of smaller liquor stores in the state - have helped support those shops in this fight.

We checked and prices for a number of products both stores sell are a little less expensive at Total Wine & More. Over at Fairview though, they say prices aren't everything.

"I currently live about three-fourths of a mile from here. I grew up a mile and a half from here so I, I didn't get too far from home," smiled Burwell. He says Roseville is his community. He's been loyal to his customers, he thinks they'll be loyal to him.

Interestingly, back at Total Wine, Trone doesn't necessarily disagree.

"Costco's not driving Cub Foods out of business," Trone said. "They both coexist in business. I think that's the best analogy."

The Roseville location is the first of what Total Wine & More hopes will be three Minnesota stores. Their liquor license vote has already been pushed back several times in Bloomington, where the store is already built and ready to go. The delay is partially because the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association sent Bloomington's city attorney a stack of Total Wine-related court cases, mostly from other states.

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