Giant became the latest in the list of Centre County supermarkets to sell beer in-store, but residents shouldn’t expect this to become the norm any time soon.
Wegman’s was the first supermarket to receive a restaurant liquor license from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board in 2009 following a ruling that allowed beer in supermarkets as long as they have a dedicated cafe area and it is separate from all other purchases.
Recently, Giant and Weis have jumped on board, and though Giant public relations manager Chris Brand said its Beer Garden and Eatery adds to the shopping experience, beer sales likely won’t be widespread in every location.
The process of obtaining a PLCB license isn’t necessarily difficult, Brand said. But they have to look into external factors such as renovation costs, how the local community will receive it and whether it’s a good fit for the store.
“We are certainly looking to increase our offerings,” he said. “We are looking into these opportunities.”
Brand also said Giant pays attention to what competing stores are doing in its market, but it’s certainly not the sole or deciding factor when choosing whether to go the beer route.
He said he just looks at beer and food as a natural pairing, and it allows the store to offer a greater selection.
Dennis Curtin, Weis public relations director, agreed that the customers appreciate the option, and it adds to the attractiveness of the store. But the licensing is “not an overnight process,” and it will not be included in every store.
Both Curtin and Brand said they look at it as an option for each supermarket, but sometimes it doesn’t make economic sense to pursue a license.
“There are a lot of moving parts, but it’s hard to tell what the future holds,” Brand said. “We are mindful and watchful of each and every development that comes along.”
Neither Curtin nor Brand were able to speak on behalf of any of the other Giant or Weis locations in Centre County, but both said there is nothing to report about those locations at this time.
And these supermarkets selling beer don’t seem to be a stepping stone for convenience stores like Sheetz to move into the market. In 2009, the state Supreme Court ruled against the sale of beer in an Altoona Sheetz store because it would open the floodgates for many other stores to sell beer.
But President and CEO Stan Sheetz said in a statement that he remains hopeful the laws will be changed and they will be allowed to sell beer.
Matt Morgan can be reached at 235-3928. Follow him on Twitter @MetroMattMorgan