A Beer While You Shop? Anything to Keep You In the Store

Some of you already know about this because its been out there for a few months.  Whole Foods is opening bars inside their grocery stores that serve wine and craft beer.  It is a pilot project now with bars in about 12 Whole Foods stores, and plans are to put them in Throughout the country.  I see up sides and down sides to this.  First, the up side is the beer, DUH.  It would be nice to have a brew while shopping, or better yet while my wife shopped!

The down sides here I think are many, and they are all down sides for the consumer, but you’ll never know it…

See, the reason the grocery store installs a bar is because it keeps you in the store longer.  The longer you are in the store, the more likely you are to spend money on things you see, and perhaps didn’t come for.  It is part of the psychology of shopping, and it is very technical and very lucrative for the stores.  In this USA today article the Whole Foods representative says that it is for the “community”, to make their stores a part of the fabric of the area.  Don’t be fooled.  If this wasn’t a huge money maker they wouldn’t be doing it.  And it doesn’t have to be a moneymaker in the bar alone.  If they begin to see overall sales inching up, they know why.

So on the one hand it would be nice to have a beer and make a shopping trip a little more enjoyable, but on the other hand they really aren’t targeting a person like me who shops once every two weeks and wants to get in and out quickly.  No, they want the people who like to linger.  The ones that will get hungry while sitting at the bar, then go shopping.  It is a dubious and ingenious idea that they are implementing, and one that is sure to cost you more than you think when you partake.

What do you think?  Nice convenience while shopping, or another way to pick your pocket at the register?  Let us know in the comments.


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18 Comments on “A Beer While You Shop? Anything to Keep You In the Store”

  1. March 28, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    Not a very responsible attitude to drinking & driving is it?

    • Don
      March 28, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

      Well, Keith, I never really thought about that perspective, but it is the same for bars, and beer stores that sell product. I don’t see lots of people hanging around and getting tanked, but It could happen. I guess that remains to be seen.

      • March 28, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

        funnily this was my first thought and yes, I know the same theoretically applies to bars, but my impression of bars, pubs or restaurants is that they are more city-based and much more accessible by public transport, unlike out of town supermarkets which rely almost 100% on people driving there.

        Most decent UK supermarkets have a coffee shop serving food and drinks, but these really are coffee shops serving mostly non-alcoholic drinks and meals or snacks.

        As for Germany, large out of town supermarkets haven’t really caught on as yet (thankfully in some ways!), although my local supermarket (cough) which has three check-outs, but I’ve never seen more than two open at once, has a wee bakery with three tables and serves coffee, tea and cakes to eat there 🙂

        • Don
          March 28, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

          Keith, I’m not really sure where Whole Foods typically locates. I know they have a proposed site in Boise where I work, and it is on the edge of several neighborhoods, and is planned to be under about 75,000 square feet. (Small by American Standards). But Not being familiar with them I don’t know whether most have a resident population within walking or transit distance, or if they are typical sprawling grocery stores. I would also think if someone was going to overindulge, going to the grocery store would be down towards the bottom of their choices. 😉

  2. March 28, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    I think Whole Foods wants to be like Starbucks or Barnes & Noble – a destination. Having a bar in store helps with this and also gives them a place to connect with the beer and wine community with tastings, etc. If it loosens purse strings and boosts sales, then that’s a bonus, but I’m not sure it’s the main purpose.

    • Don
      March 28, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

      Oh, Jim…Little Bro, you always were kinda naive, such a trusting soul. It does all those things you said, and gives people reason to go there and BUY STUFF. They are in the business of SALES, to SELL you things. Why do you think Starbucks has introduced beer sales in a few of their Seattle shops? To be in the beer and wine community? Hell no, they are in it for $$, and if the $$ wasn’t there, they wouldn’t be doing it. I’m not saying it is a bad or sinister thing, just another ploy to take $$ out of your wallet at checkout.

      • March 28, 2011 at 2:01 pm #

        I’m not naive, just a little more sophisticated than you, bro.

        I understand that it’s all about profits, but I think they may be trying to reap them more indirectly. Having a bar there makes it more a “scene.” If they can get some patrons to add an extra visit once a week, those visits equal increased sales occasions and foster a sense of connection to the Whole Foods brand, which can act as a tie-breaker when folks decide where to shop.

        The bar doesn’t need to be a profit center to be a success.

        • Don
          March 28, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

          That’s what I said. We are in violent agreement with each other…again!

  3. johnking82
    March 28, 2011 at 1:55 pm #

    My Whole Foods has it where you can get a beer to drink while you shop and also fill a growler if you want. I’ve gotten a beer once, but most of the time I only go there for a few things cus it’s so damn expensive. I think of it like this:

    Going into Whole Foods hungry is the same thing as going into it buzzed, it’s usually not a good thing. You’ll buy more sh*t you don’t need and might get in trouble for trying to pivk up the hipp vegan cashier.

    If the beer is priced anything like their food, I’ll stick to my local beer place.

    • Don
      March 28, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

      From what the article said John, they are looking somewhere between $4 and $10 a pint, so it is quite spendy. But again I think they are looking for Middle aged single professional types with a lot of time on their hands…Hmmm, kinda sounds like my Final Four bracket this year… Nonexistent!

  4. March 28, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

    I think its good. Don, I suppose it would be better if they thought up ways to drive down overall store sales? If that were the case, they could just stream The View 24/7 to tv screens in the bar area. People will leave the place in violent fashion.

    I don’t think its an evil agenda, just good business. Exercise self-control, have a beer and leave without passing the bean-sprout aisle. Its all good.

    • Don
      March 28, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

      Good points all, Scott. I just can’t help but think it isn’t in my best interest to drink and shop. I did that once on the internet, I’m still trying to figure out where to put that bronze statue of Michael Jackson (the Thriller MJ, not the beer guy). 😉

      • March 29, 2011 at 8:25 am #

        Funny, I bought one of those too after a few beers. Mine has a real reproduction sequin glove though, does yours?

        • Don
          March 29, 2011 at 8:43 am #

          No, they had sold out, but in its place they put an authentic replica of his fringy shoulder pads.

  5. March 28, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    LOL@ “violent agreement”

    You’re both right. Bottom line is that Whole Foods, for all of its detractors (and I’m not one of them), wouldn’t be rolling out this pilot project if they didn’t believe it would enhance or otherwise partner well with their overall business model. I doubt they expect the square footage space devoted to the “bar” area to bring in the same revenue per sq. foot as the rest of the sales floor (especially given the increased insurance cost associated with serving alcohol), but I’m sure that’s not the goal. They’re tapping into the ‘Starbucks meets casino gaming floor’ model recognizing that they’ll do well by creating a buzz (developing WF as a destination) and by creating buzzed patrons (who’ve already decided to make WF their destination). Classic win-win for everyone.

    I’m just glad this model isn’t being rolled out to Target Greatland or Wal*Mart because pouring Natty Light, Old Milwaulkee & Busch to the beef jerky in bulk crowd is a bit frightening.

    • Don
      March 28, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

      Yes, I think the “People of Wal Mart” and Alcohol is a potentially toxic mix. “Let’s go to Wally World and get our drunk on Mother!”

  6. March 28, 2011 at 5:52 pm #

    There’s a German-style butcher here in St. Louis that gives away beer, for free, when the line is long. The first time I saw it, I was afraid to take a beer because I thought it was a trick. The guy behind the counter- the owner, apparently- just started looking at the line and said “Beer?” (pause) “Beer?” (pause) “Beer?” until someone finally raised their hand and he gave ’em a beer. It was 10 in the morning, too, which is the best part of the whole thing.

    In full disclosure, I must confess- it was a Busch Light.

    • Don
      March 28, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

      You’ve told that story once before John, and it is still amazing! What a place! I’ll bet you go there as much as possible. I know a free Busch light tastes a lot better than one you have to pay for!

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