Whole Foods’ SWI (Shopping-While-Imbibing) Concept
A lot of people say they dislike shopping and retailers have found ways to assuage this discomfort. Hot mulled spice cider while cruising holiday offerings, samples of cookies and sausages in the grocery aisles, and even bars serving alcoholic beverages in stores.
Over the past few years, Whole Foods Market has rolled out bars serving beer, wine, and simple fare in its stores. Now comes a report from WTOP DC News that a Whole Foods in Washington, DC not only has a bar in-store, but is allowing shoppers to carry their beverage of choice with them while they shop.
"We are one of the few stores in this area that is allowing customers to walk around and drink while they shop," Meg McGarry, the marketing team leader, told WTOP. "You can get a glass of wine, get a beer and sit at the bar, or you can actually grab one of those beverages and go walk through the grocery store and enjoy your beverage while you shop."
While it appears that it takes some time for customers to get used to the idea, many regulars now consider it part of the shopping experience. Most drink and push their carts responsibly, according to Ms. McGarry who claims customers typically limit themselves to one drink per shop.
Whole Foods is planning to add glass holders to its carts in the future.
"Sometimes you need two hands to hold your grocery list and shop. If you have a holder for your pint glass as well, it’s going to be more convenient," Ms. McGarry told WTOP.
Supermarkets are not the only retail channel looking to loosen consumers’ purses and wallets with alcohol. I was in Los Angeles last year and a friend and I visited Boot Star on Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood. When we walked in, the associate said, "Gentlemen" and gestured toward a small table with a bottle of Patron Silver and plenty glasses. After a few of those, my friend dropped a half $K on a killer hat and manta ray boots.
I don’t think this would work in my, or most, local supermarkets. What works for me is hitting my favorite wine shop for a Friday or Saturday tasting after enduring another routine supermarket shopping trip. I’m in New York State and sampling is left to the tastings in liquor stores.
The alcohol beverage laws state to state are labyrinthine, and a quick bit of research didn’t reveal how this WFM store in D.C. managed a license to pull this in-store deal off — and in our seat of government at that. But I have to say, the idea may have merit as a palliative measure, so I may hit my purveyor first for a taste before the dreaded grocery shop next time.
- Paper, plastic or pint? Grocery shopping trend takes root in D.C. – WTOP.com
- Whole Foods serves beer, wine on tap – Houston Chronicle
- Washington, DC ABC Licensing Process – Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration
What do you think of the shopping-while-imbibing concept at Whole Foods? Can you think of other retailers that might benefit from doing something similar?