Liquor is cheaper in the Twin Cities as Total Wine causes retailers to drop prices

Total Wine stores have been a "game changer" for the liquor market.
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The expansion of alcohol superstore Total Wine & More into the Twin Cities market has caused liquor prices to drop as smaller retailers try to compete.

WCCO reports the opening of four Total Wine stores in the metro area – with a fifth on the way – has been a "game changer" for the liquor market, with the superstores' price-slashing business model forcing Minnesota's liquor industry to follow suit.

"It's a free-for-all," said Jack Farrell, owner of Haskell's liquor stores. "Everyone has been affected by Total coming into the market," adding that he has slashed prices on popular brands such as Captain Morgan rum, which has gone from $23.95 for 1.75 liters to $19.98.

While the consumer is the winner from the price war, Total Wine's entrance into the Minnesota market – worth an estimated $3 billion a year – has meant bad news for independent and municipal retailers, who face even sterner competition as Target expands liquor sales in its stores as well.

In March this year it was revealed that the municipal stores run by the City of Edina had lost $765,000 as a result of Total Wine opening a store in nearby Bloomington.

The next location in Total Wine's sights is Minnetonka, with the Business Journal reporting earlier this month it intends to open a location next to the Whole Foods across Interstate 394 from the Ridgedale Center.

At 10,000 to 15,000 square foot, it would be smaller than typical Total Wine stores, the website notes, which range from 20,000 to 25,000 square foot.

According to the Star Tribune, the City of Minnetonka approved minor tweaks to its liquor rules after requests from Total Wine and Target that will mean the area around Ridgedale will have capacity for more liquor stores.

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