Is there anywhere more unappealing for beer than Total Wine or BevMo?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by G_Harn78, Oct 15, 2022.

  1. G_Harn78

    G_Harn78 Mar 13, 2020 California

    Just left a Total Wine empty-handed and the same at a BevMo (west coast) earlier this week. Not only is all of the beer old, some outright stale, the dark aisles and dusty warm beer on the shelves is just not appealing at all. Anyone else feel that?
  2. BBThunderbolt

    BBThunderbolt Sep 24, 2007 Kiribati
    Society Trader

    The only reason I ever go into the local Bevmo is because it right next to Big 5 Sports. So, when i go grab a new pair of sneakers, I always pop in and look around. They usually have some Belgiany things, and I'll grab a couple.
    rocdoc1, woemad, ChicagoJ and 2 others like this.
  3. cjgiant

    cjgiant Jul 13, 2013 District of Columbia

    I think you have to go in knowing what to expect, the main thing being what you mention - a lack of attention to fresh product. Even if they didn't have all the newest fads, if their stock was kept within reason, it would be better.

    That said, around me the TWs have pull and can have decent stock of interesting regional, national, and import releases. So while I always check dates in the regular aisle, even for local products, I like to see what's available on big displays when I stop by. [Un?]Luckily enough one is on my way home from work, so stopping in once in a while isn't any skin off my back.
  4. MistaRyte

    MistaRyte Jan 14, 2008 Virginia

    TW... Sigh... You basically have to just follow what they get in and still pay attention to dates. It could be worse... We could have nothing but grocery stores and gas stations.
  5. retention_

    retention_ Jan 8, 2022 North Carolina

    Total Wine is pretty much a last resort for me. They cut their shelf space for beer by about 40% a few years ago and I haven't gone there nearly as much since. I kind of get it as they always had an excess of expired beer but it seems like the variety really went away at the same time. They used to get stuff from west coast breweries you couldn't find anywhere else like Pike and Laughing Dog (I still miss Dogfather). All of those beers are gone and now I only go there to shop the current seasonal beers.
  6. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Society Trader

    My local TW actually has a good beer buyer now and as a result they have a good selection of fresh beers.
  7. tobelerone

    tobelerone Dec 1, 2010 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    When I go to Florida every year I like to stop
    In (Stuart) as they have a lot of locals I can’t get at home and there’s always some fresh stuff on offer. I can usually find some singles of dark beers/high abv stuff where age is less of a concern as well. The latter is true in NJ’s exactly as @cjgiant said, know what you’re getting yourself into and be ready to hunt and peck a bit.
  8. zid

    zid Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Society Trader

    Whenever I shop elsewhere, I tend to leave thinking, "Why didn't I just go to Total Wine instead?" That's not sarcasm. It's easily my favorite place in my area even if that's clearly an unpopular opinion around here.
  9. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 May 30, 2005 Michigan

    The only time I've been in a TW store was on vacation earlier this year in Northern Virginia. I was looking for a specific beer which they didn't have (contrary to the beer finder on the web site) so I left without looking in detail at the dates, dust, etc. However, I was impressed with the large selection, so they have that feature going for them. But maybe the fact that this store (and it looks like all of the Virginia stores?) does not carry spirits causes the beer and wine inventory to be expanded?
    #9 PapaGoose03, Oct 16, 2022
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2022
  10. cjgiant

    cjgiant Jul 13, 2013 District of Columbia

    Purely informational, but Virginia is one of those that has state-run liquor stores as the only places that can sell spirits, so no Total Wine can sell spirits here.
  11. budsNpils

    budsNpils Aug 6, 2021 Texas
    Society Trader

    Some Totals are better than others although there is still a lot of out dated beer in every Total iv been in. You could do a lot worse than Total or Specs in my area tho. My go to Total location has been pretty decent lately.

    I have left empty handed before. I don't like to settle sometimes and say fuck it and go to a different store or hit a brewery.
    ChicagoJ and Beer_Economicus like this.
  12. keithmurray

    keithmurray Oct 7, 2009 Connecticut

    They are just as good as any of the stores round here. Add in the fact that they are more attractively priced versus the competition, I find them to be more of a "go to" than any other spot
    rocdoc1, Specialmick and Greywulfken like this.
  13. MadMadMike

    MadMadMike Dec 11, 2020 Florida
    Society Trader

    TW is kind of king in SW FL. The same problems of outdated stuff is here too. But the ‘snow birds’ come in right about now and snatch everything up from their fave ‘up north’ breweries, so our rotation is good.
    But late.
    Beers you dudes are posting takes 6 more weeks to get shelf here.,. except for local (Cigar City, Tripping Animals, etc.) goods.
    TCgenny, ChicagoJ, Rug and 1 other person like this.
  14. Greywulfken

    Greywulfken Aug 25, 2010 New York
    Society Trader

    I'm a huge Total Wine fan, but maybe we just have a great store here and that's not always the case... My store in Westbury, (Long Island) NY gets in everything I was buying at the other bottle shops, stock seems to rotate reliably, and fresh beers are always available in all styles... They have a huge selection with a focus on local products; store is well-maintained, orderly, and has the cheapest alcohol you'll find on the Island... After almost a decade of shopping independently-owned beer stores, since this TW opened (the first one in NY), Total Wine has become the only place I buy beer and alcohol...
  15. Urk1127

    Urk1127 Jul 2, 2014 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    My job
    Strip clubs
  16. Junior

    Junior May 23, 2015 Michigan
    Society Trader

    My experience is relatively limited but the Total Wines I’ve been to in Florida (3 or 4 over the last 5 years) were much better than the one in I visited in Los Angeles this summer.
    ChicagoJ likes this.
  17. elliot23

    elliot23 Jan 27, 2009 Maryland

    Total Wine is where craft beer goes to die.
  18. OffTrail

    OffTrail Aug 12, 2012 Washington

    The local Total Wine is where I buy just about all of my beer. There is a wide selection of breweries. Most PNW beer is fresh. It's a fact that it has an ever narrowing tunnel vision focused on IPAs. On my last trip they offered one (1) brown ale. But where is that not the case?
    RJLarse, Greywulfken and ChicagoJ like this.
  19. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    My 'local' TW (in the neighboring state of Delaware) has a seasonal section for beers. That is the place I look first since those beers are fresh. In the non-seasonal aisles it is hit or miss (mostly miss) as regards fresh beer.

    The prices are reasonable if you are looking for a half-full perspective. :flushed:

  20. Giantspace

    Giantspace Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    No TW in PA. I do stop in the DE store a few times a year. Some things are priced well, some not. The TW I have been to in TN and NC have been good as well and priced quite well. I will stop by any time I am near one. The one in NC had a good selection of local and area beers.

    ChicagoJ likes this.
  21. MadMadMike

    MadMadMike Dec 11, 2020 Florida
    Society Trader

    Good to see someone higher than me on a Saturday night slurring.,.
    Really Dahmer?.,.
    Urk1127 and bubseymour like this.
  22. mvogt

    mvogt Sep 10, 2021 Massachusetts

    Idk if this is true for all, but the ones near me put their inventory on Untapp'd very promptly, so it's pretty easy to see what's new.

    Mine has reasonable turnover on some of my daily drivers, not to mention a once-in-a-blue-moon drop of Heady Topper/Focal Banger. On the whole I'd say it works okay for me.
    ChicagoJ likes this.
  23. WickedBeer

    WickedBeer Sep 23, 2015 Alabama
    Society Trader

    I found that when I first got into craft beer, Total Wine / BevMo was a haven. Huge variety, and as someone who was still developing a taste for what they liked, loved walking the aisles and even be able to search based on country / region or style. As I got a little bit deeper into the game, and pickier with what I liked, the appeal to those places definitely went down. Additionally, like you mentioned, I became wiser to things like dates, rotation, etc. and found myself going there less and less. That said, when it comes to someone like me who occasionally finds themselves needing a quick fix of something new, it’s hard to beat the variety offered by these two places (especially if there’s not a good craft beer store alternative nearby).
    budsNpils, bret27, mvogt and 2 others like this.
  24. johnyb

    johnyb Aug 11, 2012 Florida

    I just realized as I read this forum that I haven’t been in my local TW since Black Friday last year for the Bourbon County release, likely this Black Friday will be my next visit for the same. Most of my purchases have been from local breweries direct or what Other Half has been kind enough to ship my way of late
    JrGtr, thuey and ChicagoJ like this.
  25. jesskidden

    jesskidden Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    I've never been in a store in either chain (I see TW has NJ stores but, so far, haven't entered one) but I've also never been in a standard (w/macro/imports/craft inventory) licensed beer/liquor/grocery/drug store that didn't have Out of Code beer. Not claiming that a store with great monitoring of freshness, refrigerated stock, beer not exposed to light and an excellent selection doesn't exist, I just have never seen it in my half of century of beer shopping.

    In NJ, a single entity can only own 2 off-premise licenses, so the chains are really co-ops, owned by relatives (Wegmans family) or licensees/franchisees - so they can vary quite a bit store-to-store. For one example, compare the East Windsor NJ JOE CANAL'S to the JOE CANAL'S in Lawrenceville 15 miles away. :astonished:
  26. Beersnake1

    Beersnake1 Aug 17, 2013 California
    Moderator Society Trader

    TW is hit and miss for me. There is one that I go to, and they have things that no other place has. Random stuff, like 4-packs of Trois Pistoles by Unibroue. Can't find them anywhere else. They have some of the special releases and prices are good. I would echo other comments about old beer. Have found lots of German beers sitting on shelves that are over a year old. Just have to be aware.
    budsNpils, Rug, Greywulfken and 3 others like this.
  27. ChicagoJ

    ChicagoJ Feb 2, 2015 Illinois

    The Total Wine in Summerlin Las Vegas is my primary experience with Total Wine. It is absolutely the nut low in terms of a beer shopping experience. I’ve walked out empty handed the past couple of times and don’t even bother to go there anymore. Their beer is old, not refrigerated, and their beer aisles are also organized horrendously. You can tell they don’t give a rats ass about beer. Nearly all their sales are geared toward wine and spirits, and their store reflects their priorities.

    I also haven’t been to the Chicago area equivalent (Binny’s) in over a year, and my beer buying experience has been a lot more enjoyable in 2022. Far worth paying the extra buck or two to find refrigerated fresh beer and knowledgeable friendly staff who don’t hate their jobs and the corporation they work for.

    Find the same experience with other businesses, such as going to the local Italian or Polish grocery stores over Albertson’s and Kroger, or having my money at a local bank and credit union versus banking at a National chain.
    emerge077, PapaGoose03 and Chaz like this.
  28. Chaz

    Chaz Feb 3, 2002 Minnesota
    Society Trader

    This is a thread that is close to my heart (and or wallet), especially as I’ve watched the local market transform in recent years.

    I have never had the fortune to visit a BevMo, but their online stock selection and prices had always enticed me, back when I worked retail and regularly did online price comparisons with other such large retail chains— over fifteen years ago! :flushed:

    Owing to the fact that I haven’t visited a single BevMo location, I can’t make an honest comparison with Total Wine (or “Total Market Domination”, as I like to call them).

    But based upon what I have read and understand of Total Wine’s corporate mentality and unique, point of view, I do understand them in a rather oblique sense, especially based upon feedback from current and former employees (as well as having read-up on their background).

    They’re not unlike Binny’s in Chicagoland*; Gotta be the biggest, baddest-ass mofo of a booze retailer around — no matter what effect it has on the floor stackers of dusty and clearly wayyyy past-code imports, Craft, and true Micros you happen to have in inventory. :rolling_eyes:

    That is a dangerous mentality to flirt with, and very few large scale retailers that are dealing with perishables (beer, in this case) can pull it off.

    As a consumer, I choose a well-curated and well-kept selection over the BIGGEST and BADDEST-ASS one, all day long, and it is very rare when this confluence of considerations overlaps well enough to sway me from my regular haunts: Local packies that do their best, and longtime employees of same with whom I have developed a rapport.

    Your mileage may vary, but I will take smaller and more personalized service all-day-long.

    *Binny’s has ~50 Illinois locations; not sure how many BevMo! or Total Mayhem have.
    #28 Chaz, Oct 16, 2022
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2022
    JMN44, alucard6679, emerge077 and 3 others like this.
  29. Ozzylizard

    Ozzylizard Oct 5, 2013 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    No TW in PA that I know of. I usually stop at TW in Schertz, TX, when I'm in the area but rarely buy any beer except an occasional import I can't find elsewhere, if I can find a date through the dust.
    ChicagoJ likes this.
  30. ESHBG

    ESHBG Jul 30, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Same here in PA and probably why they haven't bothered with our market.
  31. zid

    zid Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Society Trader

    Same store I was referring to (you know that, but pointing it out for others). Every store has it’s own personality to a certain degree. As far as my buying habits are concerned - that TW is a step up rather than a step down from other area stores with regard to beer freshness. Generally speaking, it’s also cleaner, better maintained, cheaper and with better selection. The parking lot is terrible, but the same goes for other area stores (for different reasons though). Since it’s New York, it’s actually a separate business from normal TWs, and you unfortunately can’t check their beer stock on the TW website as a result. For people who shop at TWs with dusty beer bottles, they might be shocked to know that this particular store even sells food. Despite the fact that most people don’t go to a TW to buy food, this store doesn’t even seem to suffer with their stock… but it’s not like I have a habit of checking the best by dates of their cheese selection. If a consumer wants a beer store with 20 refrigerated varieties of local NEIPA four packs, they will not like this store. For me, it’s the safest option around and easily the best for people who still buy a variety of imports.
    TongoRad, Rug, ChicagoJ and 1 other person like this.
  32. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Yes, there are no Total Wine stores in PA but there is a PA ‘connection’:

    “Total Wine & More is America's Wine Superstore® — the country‘s largest independent retailer of fine wine. We started in 1991 when brothers David and Robert Trone opened a small store in Delaware. Today, we operate 243 superstores across 27 states and continue to grow.”

    The two brothers detailed above (David and Robert) both owned Retail Beer Distributors in PA and they wanted to expand but in PA a person can only have a license for one Beer Distributor so they went to Delaware and opened what was then called Liquor World in Claymont, DE. That store was small from the front but it was rather deep with lots of wine & spirits within a small footprint (narrow aisles and high shelving). The fact that Claymont was just across the border from PA brought in a lot of PA business; you always saw lots of PA plates in the parking lot. Back in the day there were reports of PA State Troopers casing the parking lots and when PA customers got into their cars they would radio ahead license plate number to other Troopers on I-95 to pull over cars who were illegally bringing in out of state liquor. I would sometime return to PA the long way (not taking I-95) to avoid the ‘revenuers’.


    P.S. I have been told that the Claymont store is the TW store that brings in the most money of the 243 stores.
  33. DCH

    DCH Jun 12, 2013 New York

    I’ve only been buying from total wine/NY marketplace for the past year or so, and I’ve gotta say they have the best selection of any where around. Also, as far as freshness is concerned, they beat out all of the other local distros who leave old product on the shelf in hopes to make profit from unsuspecting consumers.
    zid and Greywulfken like this.
  34. Giantspace

    Giantspace Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    If only a Woodmans would open near by. That store was amazing.

  35. JBogan

    JBogan Jul 15, 2007 California

    Where I live, I'd give anything to have a Total Wine nearby. In my area there's only supermarkets and convenience stores, and you're lucky if you ever see anything but IPAs for sale there.

    About 45 minutes from where I live there's a Total Wine and a Bevmo, just a block or two from each other. The Bevmo is lousy, with a much much smaller stock, higher prices, and you're not allowed to buy singles there.

    The Total Wine has a good selection of beer, although not as good as some other Total Wines that I've been in, fair prices and you can buy single of just about everything. I still don't like the fact that only a tiny portion of their beer is refrigerated, but it's either I buy their warm beer or I have to drive even further (about an hour from where I live) to find a place with a really good selection of refrigerated beer.
    ChicagoJ and Greywulfken like this.
  36. Smakawhat

    Smakawhat Mar 18, 2008 Maryland

    I've been in some fantastic ones
    I've been in some good ones
    Some are ok
    And some are downright a waste of time.

    However, I have never visited one and come out empty handed :wink:
    budsNpils, Rug and deanzaZZR like this.
  37. OfficerVZdiver

    OfficerVZdiver Jan 1, 2022

    I haven’t any issues with Total Wine and unironically it’s the best beer store in my town. It’s also the only place that I can KBS and it’s still rare when they have it. There use to be other stores that did good but they have gone down hill.
  38. richOutsidePhilly

    richOutsidePhilly Jan 27, 2021 Pennsylvania

    I can believe that about Claymont's dominance. I make that trip a few times a year. It's always a madhouse, time of day regardless. I call it Toys-R-Us for adults. I find its selection the best of any/all the beer purveyors I frequent. Their web site is helpful and moreso their staff. More than once I've called and had them put something aside for me.
    I'm also pretty familiar with their Richmond outlet. That one is more in line with the negative reviews above. Shelf stock has dwindled, often many vast empty spaces. You do see some stuff that they don't carry up north (Pike, but that was a while ago).
    Funny that folks are complaining about their lack of date-code rigor. This is the place ok, years ago, that a clerk refused to let me buy a Heavy Seas Marzen that he'd located for me but then saw how old it was!
    ChicagoJ and JackHorzempa like this.
  39. ATL6245

    ATL6245 Aug 16, 2018 Georgia

    Sadly, the overwhelming majority of bottle shops around me are worse. The Total Wine I shop at the most still has the biggest, best selection of beers. I have to carefully check Best By and Packaged On dates to make sure I don't pick up something too old but the store does a better than average job of rotating inventory. By contrast, I went into a close by bottle shop that keeps the biggest inventory near mean and picked up a six pack of a core beer made by a local brewery. They do not put any dating on the outside of the carton. Beer was over one year old. Now that is partially the brewery's fault for not having any date codes (which they recently told me they were changing soon) but a good retailer would have a mechanism for keeping track of that inventory anyway.
    Rug and ChicagoJ like this.
  40. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    The 'challenge' as regards the Claymont store is that they demand that the Wholesale Distributors stock the shelves; there are no Total Wine employees monitoring what product (e.g., old product) are being placed on the shelves. One time when I was there I decided to check the dates of the beers that the Wholesale Distributor just placed on the shelf. Those beers were many months old. Granted this is just one 'data point' but it does illustrate the problem that comes with demanding free labor.

    As with all beer retailers it is best to carefully check the dates on the cans/bottles before making a purchase. And for me: no dates = no purchase.

    ChicagoJ and ATL6245 like this.