The Wegmans supermarket chain plans to open a liquor mart inside its Cherry Hill store, making it one of the few groceries in South Jersey to sell alcohol.
Jason Wehle, a son-in-law of chief executive officer Danny Wegman, paid $500,000 in October for a retail liquor license formerly held by Corkscrewed on Marlton Pike. Wegmans will carve out space in its Route 70 store to operate the liquor sales, company spokesperson Jeanne Colleluori said yesterday.
Colleluori said Wegmans was in the early stages of planning the liquor sales and did not know when they would begin.
Supermarkets in New Jersey have been pushing for expanded access to liquor licenses to allow more grocers to sell alcoholic beverages. Current state law prohibits a person or corporation from owning more than two licenses, effectively limiting the ability of chain operations to open many liquor stores.
Liquor store owners and the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control have opposed the change, arguing it could lead to the demise of locally owned liquor stores and make liquor law enforcement more difficult.
Wegmans and some other chain stores purchase licenses in the names of family members or franchise owners to avoid violating the two-license limit. Wegmans, with seven stores in New Jersey, currently operates liquor stores in its supermarkets in Manalapan, Bridgewater and Princeton.
In Pennsylvania, supermarkets cannot be licensed to sell alcoholic beverages, as the state operates the liquor business. Nationwide, 46 states permit some beer, wine or liquor sales in grocery stores. Only Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island and Alaska have outright prohibitions.