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Wegmans to add liquor

Its Cherry Hill supermarket sales will be a rarity in South Jersey.

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's, paid $500,000 in October for the retail liquor license formerly held by Corkscrewed on Marlton Pike. Wegmans will carve out space in its Route 70 store to sell liquor, spokeswoman Jeanne Colleluori said yesterday.

She said that planning was in the early stages, and that she did not know when liquor sales would begin.

Supermarkets in New Jersey have been pushing for expanded access to liquor licenses. State law prohibits a person or corporation from owning more than two, limiting the ability of chains to open many liquor stores.

Liquor-store owners and the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control have argued that the change could lead to the demise of locally owned liquor stores and make liquor laws harder to enforce.

Wegmans and some other chain stores buy licenses in the names of relatives or franchise owners to avoid violating the two-license limit. Wegmans, with seven stores in New Jersey, sells liquor in its supermarkets in Manalapan, Bridgewater and Princeton.

Pennsylvania supermarkets cannot sell alcoholic beverages because 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.