Four years ago, I wrote about Starbucks testing beer and wine sales in select cafes. I joked about ordering a Venti Pinot Grigio and said if the pilot program expanded, it just might get me into my local Starbucks.
The pilot program was successful, and Starbucks will expand alcohol sales to thousands of stores. (Unfortunately, I just realized it won’t be happening at my local Starbucks because it’s in a dry town.)
Starbucks has found that in the 40 or so locations where it has added alcohol sales in the evening, “there’s a meaningful increase in sales during that time of the day.” In the stores where they sell alcohol, they also offer a light bites menu. In Chicago, offerings include truffle macaroni and cheese and chocolate fondue in locations that also offer wine and beer.
Expanding the number of stores selling alcohol isn’t the only move Starbucks is making to increase sales. Yesterday, during the annual shareholders meeting, the company announced that it will sell Oprah Chai Tea. Profits of the sales of the tea will benefit charity. (Profits of everything else that Oprah's loyal fan base buys in addition to the tea will benefit Starbucks.)
I’ll be interested in seeing if Starbucks includes regional wines and beers in its stores. When it started selling alcohol at a Seattle café in the fall of 2010, choices included regional beer, wine and cheese. I’d love for the company to make that a practice all across the country as it adds alcohol and light bites to stores.
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