WINONA, Minn. -- Hy-Vee's newest store here includes a 4,300-square-foot wine and liquor store adjacent to the supermarket, but with the single, separate entrance required by state law. Both stores opened April 9.
"This is our 31st wine and spirits store," said Ruth Mitchell, spokeswoman for the chain, based in West Des Moines, Iowa. "Generally, we build them with an opening from the store, aside from in Minnesota."
She told SN that although most Hy-Vee supermarkets contain a wine and spirits department, the company prefers to have separate wine and liquor stores for customer convenience.
"As we're building more, we are going with increasingly upscale merchandising and trying to show off some of the more expensive wine and spirits, but we also have an assortment of domestic and imported beers and cigars," she said.
Tom Benoit, store director, said a wooden floor sets off the more upscale varieties of wine, including many imports grouped by country and by varietal. Signage uses Wine Spectator ratings, and also suggests how wines complement certain dishes.
One other grocery store in town has a wine and liquor store attached, "but we have the largest walk-in beer cooler, which seems to be kind of unique for this area," Benoit said. Most of the beer is sold chilled, and the store has a separate keg cooler as well, bearing in mind that Winona has two colleges, tourism related to its location "right on the Mississippi River," two state parks and campgrounds that attract visitors.
Built separately, wine and spirits stores can be larger, "and it gives us a chance to merchandise them in a more striking way," Mitchell said.
"Also, having the outside entrance sets it off for the customer who is just coming in for wine and spirits," she said.