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Wine & Spirits @ CT Costco's anytime soon?

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zackly Jun 10, 2012 01:27 PM

I keep reading about great fine wine & spirits deals @ Costco nationally but my local Costco's (Norwalk, Danbury & Port Chester, NY) don't offer any. Does anyone know why? Now that merchants are allowed to sell booze on Sundays in CT, might this change anything? Maybe it's because CT has state mandated minimum prices for liquor?

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    mmalmad RE: zackly Jun 10, 2012 02:39 PM

    The Costco in Milford has had a liquor store for quite a while. Some of the prices are good, more so on wines. There is Kirkland brand liquor as well, I have only tried the bourbon which was OK, had a bit more burn than say Maker's Mark.

    8 Replies
    1. re: mmalmad
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      zackly RE: mmalmad Jun 10, 2012 03:36 PM

      Thanks, I'll check Milford out. I wonder why Norwalk doesn't sell liquor?
      I saw some good wine deals on this blog.
      http://costcowineblog.com/
      The Kirkland brand vodka is supposed to be top shelf too.

      1. re: zackly
        bagelman01 RE: zackly Jun 10, 2012 04:04 PM

        #1...CT has minimum liqour pricing, so Costco cannot be cheaper on any national brand than any other CT liqour store which chooses to sell the same item at the state minimimum.

        #2...Liqour permits have to be approved by both the state and the local community.
        It is possible that either (or both) Norwalk or Brookfield (there is no Costco in Danbury) are within the prohibited amount of feet of a church, school or another establishment that has a liqour license.

        #3 These Costcos may have made a deal when they got approval to build and open such as trading zoning variance for an agreement not to sell liqour (protecting mom and pops)

        #4 Until recently CT law only permitted an individual or corporation to own TWO liquor stores in the state, and as Milford and Enfield have these permits, Costco could not open Liqour departments in other Connecticut locations.
        The new state liqour law that went into effact last month in CT allowing Sunday sales ALSO increased the number of store that one person/corporation copuld own from two to three, so we may see one additional Costco liqour store in CT. The application process is not short, it requires placarding and public hearings, etc.

        Disclaimer: I am an attorney in CT, I cannot speak to the NYS Liqour laws as to how they affect the Port Chester location.

        1. re: bagelman01
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          zackly RE: bagelman01 Jun 10, 2012 05:28 PM

          Thanks! That explains it. I remember when Costco was trying to build their Norwalk store the locals were up in arms and made them modify their plans. Quite possibly liquor was on the chopping block.

          1. re: bagelman01
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            sakeandgin RE: bagelman01 Jun 10, 2012 08:17 PM

            Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and have no idea about the legal aspect of CT vs other states.

            The Enfield liquor store at Costco is not operated by Costco but by a permittee that leases space in an area outside the stores four walls. It does not sell the Kirkland brand. If you go into a Costco in other states the liquor is inside the four walls and they do sell Kirkland along with other brands.

            1. re: sakeandgin
              bagelman01 RE: sakeandgin Jun 11, 2012 04:06 AM

              In Connecticut the Liqour area of Costco MUST be physically separated and have an entrance directly from the exterior of the building. As a state licensed enterprise, it must be open to the general public, not restricted to Costco members. All liqour stores in CT MUST have a person who is the permittee and is on the premises working the majority of open hours. That permittee may be a Costco employee. If a permittee leaves, the liqour store must give placard notice of its application to change permittee, and the new permittee choice is subject to public comment.

              I shop in the Milford Costco and have never noticed Kirkland brand liqour (which does not mean that they never have it). Since alcohol in CT MUST be purchased (by the store) from an in state alcohol distributor, not direct from a manufacturer or an out of state distributor it is unusual to find store brand liqour. A distributor might not find it profitable to handle an item that previously could be sold to only two liqour stores (now three).

              In Milford, the liqour store is under the same roof, but all the way to the right front corner of the building. There are cage walls to the ceiling separating the liqour store from the rest of Costco, you may only enter from the sidewalk and there is no movement between the spaces. You are not permitted to bring your purchased liqour into Costco, you must put it in your vehicle before entering Costco.

              All liqour laws are local, the powers to regulate were given to the states in the 21st amendment section 2 of the US Constition (which repealed prohibition):
              "2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited."

              Liqor control is states rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

              1. re: bagelman01
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                sakeandgin RE: bagelman01 Jun 11, 2012 06:45 AM

                Thanks for explaining the law. It is very interesting. Is that why you read that Costco challenges the three tier system of distribution and that Washington State(Costco HQ) is the only one that doesn't have it? Are you as well versed in bagel law?

                1. re: sakeandgin
                  bagelman01 RE: sakeandgin Jun 11, 2012 07:05 AM

                  I haven't spent any time looking at Washington state law, I don't live, shop or practice law there. IOn the far past (1970s and early 80s) I worked in a liqour store in CT. I live shop and practice in CT, and have represnted parties in the sale of liqor stores and the licensing process so am familiar with CT liqor laws.

                  As to bagel laws, my first job out of college was as the purchasing agent for a large commercial kosher bakery, thus the moniker. There are state, federal and local statutes that affect bakeries, oh how we are over regulated.

                  1. re: bagelman01
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                    lsnhc RE: bagelman01 Jun 11, 2012 09:26 AM

                    CT has some of the most archaic liquor laws in the country, even with the recent passing of legislation that allows liquor to be sold on Sundays and holidays. To the best of my knowledge, wine may still not be sold in groceries, which is absurd. As far as Costco's own brands, the wines I have sampled so far have been very good values. The chardonnay ($6.99) was definitely on a par with many other brands sold at $10 - $15 and a meritage blend at around $14 was definitely worth the money.

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        ratbuddy RE: zackly Jun 10, 2012 09:42 PM

        Grocery store permits only allow the sale of beer in CT. Package stores are not allowed to sell food. Can't buy cheese at the same place you buy wine, for example. It's pretty stupid.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ratbuddy
          bagelman01 RE: ratbuddy Jun 11, 2012 04:18 AM

          That has changed, under the new Connecticut liqour laws that took effect last month:
          "The bill as passed would allow package stores to sell fresh fruit, nuts, cheese and crackers, and snack foods — a substantial change from the current law that allows an extremely limited list of items for sale that includes beer, wine, spirits, cigarettes, lottery tickets, and little else." as reported by the Hartford Courant, March 20, 2012. This does not meant the stores have to sell these complementary items, but may do so.

          1. re: bagelman01
            algct RE: bagelman01 Jun 19, 2012 06:24 AM

            Wow - I can now get Cheetos with my six-pack of Bud.

            Would you like a nice Stilton with that Chardonnay sir?

            BTW - check out the railroad section of the laws - Connecticut is pretty unique in licensing railroads. What other state (outside of New York, for obvious reasons) do you have bar cars.

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