Back in the day I posted about a then-sudden trend with in-grocery bank branches pulling out. The financial apocalypse of the past couple years didn’t help reverse the trend. But the grocery chains are not to be denied. They will find a way to add to your shopping experience come hell or high water, the latter mixed with some spirits.
The Rochester-based grocer Wegmans has introduced a pub in one of its 75 locations. I will repeat that. Wegmans has put a “pub” in a grocery store. Not to be outdone, a Whole Foods also added a pub inside one of its Pennsylvania locations.
What is it with Pennsylvania, a state with liquor laws that have not been changed since the 1930s, which require a wanna-be drunk to buy his or her beer two six-packs at a time, and only from a bar? Seems to me like Pennsylvania has this backwards – the pubs should be installing little groceries, instead.
In a way, this is an extension of what larger grocery chains have been trying for decades. The more successful initiatives have been closely aligned with the core proposition – convenient access to quality food products. The ones that are tangential tend to end up wasting space, like dry cleaners in a grocery, florists in a grocery, and, well, banks in a grocery.
The pub-in-a-grocery-store idea is not well aligned to the core proposition. In addition, the targeting strategy, if there is one, is DOA. Your traditional housewife ain’t about to belly up to the bar. And if the idea is to draw in “new” customers, I’m guessing they’d rather not be seen getting soused by the local soccer moms (and maybe by the young soccer players either – hi coach !). Like I said before, groceries are not destinations.
So far, the Wegman’s pub is reporting that just 20% of patrons are taking an alcoholic drink with their meal. I can’t imagine that number will go anywhere but down. But like the in-grocery bank branch of yore, expect a ton of copy cats coming soon to a grocer near you.
Unless, of course, your state’s liquor laws are older than Pennsylvania’s.