By Katy Rogers
Total Wine & More received approval in their request for a liquor license from the Everett Licensing Board on Monday evening, in what had become a somewhat contentious issue lately.
The company’s desire to branch into Everett’s Gateway Plaza received mostly positive feedback from board members, citizens, and elected officials who were present at the hearing. The wine superstore compared its customers “to an audience that may also be consumers in stores such as Barnes & Noble or Whole Foods.” Present at the meeting was co-founder David Trone, future Manager Chris Pinnix and Attorney Gerry D’Ambrosio, who was representing Total Wine & More. Total Wine & More currently maintains 127 locations nationwide in 18 states. They have never been denied an application to date and each of their locations has thrived. Attorney D’Ambrosio pointed out that they reached out to elected officials and Chief Steve Mazzie prior to the meeting “to get a sense of what the community needed, and what the community wanted.”
Chief Mazzie, who was present during the meeting, expressed his concerns that Gateway Plaza has vacant spaces due to competition in the recently opened Assembly Row in Medford. He believes it would be advantageous to fill those spaces to benefit the citizens of Everett and surrounding communities. Chief Mazzie acknowledged that prior to applying for a license, Total Wine & More took initiative to reach out to him personally to address any of his concerns before the board meeting.
Total Wine & More, the largest privately owned alcohol retailer in the United States, will hold a 25-year lease in the former Office Max location, and expects to maintain at least 50 full time job positions with benefits.
Taking an opposing stance, Attorney Ethan Schaff and Attorney Anthony Rossi separately expressed concerns on behalf of citizens who object to the idea of a liquor superstore within Everett’s borders. Remarks made included the negative connotations that come with the selling of alcohol, particularly in a shopping complex with two other stores that already stock beer and wine on their shelves.
“Costco and Target already have the same licenses, and offer the same competitive prices,” Rossi stated to the board.
While a few hundred signatures were presented in opposition, oddly enough, none of the opposing citizens were in attendance at the meeting themselves.
Councilors Sal Sachetta and Mike
Mangan voiced their support for Total Wine & More, as did newly elected Councilor Mike McLaughlin who was unable to attend but forwarded a letter of support.
Total Wine & More countered the opposing arguments emphasizing the importance of selling alcohol in a conservative and tasteful environment, adding that no minors are allowed on the premises without a parental guardian, in addition to refusing to sell cigarettes and lottery tickets in their establishments. The reputable wine superstore provided diagrams and photographs and stressed their appeal to a conservative audience. They added that if approved, they would have high-tech cameras throughout the store and police detail during busy days to deter potential criminal behavior. With no further conflicting arguments, the board agreed to grant the license. Total Wine & More is expected to open its doors in Everett during 2016.