By Keith Regan, Contributing Writer
OSJL Spirits LLC applied for a beer and wine license for the recently expanded store at 180 Milk St., located in the Westmeadow Plaza, saying it would use about 600 square feet of the 37,000-square foot store to carry out the license.
According to Ocean State Job Lot General Counsel Tracy Baran, the store would sell mainly “private label” beer and wine–product made specifically to be sold in the discount chain's stores. She left the door open, however to “closeout” lots of brand-name products–such as those approaching their sell-by date–being added in the future.
The board sent the retailer back to the drawing board to address concerns about the security of the alcohol sales.
Selectman Chair ?George Barrette suggested the retailer examine the model used by Stop & Shop at its two licensed stores locally. In those stores, liquor sales are physically separated from the rest of the store and customers must finalize purchases before leaving the controlled area.
Baran said the store would look into ways to better control access to the alcohol area, but said that a separate store-within-a-store approach may be “overkill” given that just a fraction of the store will be used for beer and wine display.
She noted that the alcohol sales area would be placed in the center of the existing floor space, giving it high visibility to check-out clerks and security cameras.
Police Chief Alan Gordon said he shared the board's concerns about how the sales are handled and monitored.
Some members of the board pushed back on the proposal itself.
“I don’t see a reason why they need to add beer and wine sales,” said Selectman Leigh Emery. Noting that she had concerns about allowing Stop & Shop to be licensed, she added: “I’m not ready to continue that trend.”
Victory Fayad, owner of DiVine Wine & Spirits in the Bay State Commons plaza, urged the board to consider the impact of granting the license on the other nine license holders in town.
“You should take into account people already with licenses and doing work for you,” he said.
Selectman Ian Johnson noted that the town has asked the state legislature to allow it to issue more pouring licenses for restaurants and that to not grant a package store license when one is available would be inconsistent.
“It's not right to say ‘no’ over here while we’re asking for more over there,” he said.
Ocean State already sell beer and wine in their stores in Medford, Falmouth and Randolph, Baran said.
The board continued the hearing on the license for a future meeting.