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Whole Foods takes another shot at acquiring liquor license in Lynnfield

Whole Foods Market is seeking a license to sell hard liquor at its MarketStreet store. The supermarket chain's effort failed two years ago.

LYNNFIELD Two years after voters rejected Whole Foods Market’s request to sell hard liquor at MarketStreet, the supermarket chain wants another shot at it. 

In October, Town Meeting will be asked to approve an all-alcohol package store license. The shop hopes to add liquor to its selection of beer and wine.

“Whole Foods specializes in artisan, locally-crafted goods that are sustainable and organic, and they want to add spirits to their offerings,” David Libardoni, a real estate at Nutter, a Boston law firm, told the Board of Selectmen Monday night. 

If approved by Town Meeting, the Legislature would have to pass a home rule petition to grant the single license. Whole Foods said it hopes to offer spirits by next spring.

Still, two members of the three-person panel were skeptical.

Selectman Richard Dalton said the previous proposal was soundly defeated. He suggested they make a convincing argument to voters.

“Just a word to the wise, but the mood that night was not very receptive,” he said. 

None of the competitors, including T & L Liquors Wine Cellar on Main Street, Donovan’s Liquor on Broadway and Kernwood Liquors on Salem Street, attended the public hearing.

Two years ago, they argued the competition would hurt their business and the 13,000 residents already have three liquor stores from which to choose.

But Libardoni insisted the spirit section would not compete with any package store in the community. It would comprise a small component of their existing beer and wine section, from eight to 12 feet, he said.

Chairman Philip Crawford asked how the license would benefit Lynnfield and what would be different about the new choices at Whole Foods.

Daniel Langley, the assistant store manager, said they would offer “high-end” spirits, something not available at the small package stores. 

“The idea is to make the store a one-stop shop,”he said. “Instead of going somewhere else to get your high-end spirits, you could get everything you need in one place, including cheese and specialty chocolate.”

Crawford pressed him to be specific and to name a brand and its price that would be offered at Whole Foods. But Langley said he did not know. 

Following the five-minute presentation, Langley could not answer basic questions about the store’s proposal. 

He did not know how much space the beer and wine section takes in the 46,000-square-foot store. Neither did he know whether spirits would be added to the section or replace some of its wine and beer selections. 

“I don’t really know,” he said. ‘That question would have to go to the regional team.”

Store manager William Ford declined to comment and referred questions to the chain’s media office, which did not respond to a request for comment.

 

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