January 7, 2008
America's Wine Superstore

David Trone expects to sell three million cases of wine this year, many of them in Roseville, where he doesn't even have a store.

That will change in two to three weeks, when he opens the first California branch of Total Wine & More, the largest priviately owned group of wine retailers in the nation. The country's 51st outlet, it will be at 5791 Five Star Drive just north of Highway 65 and west of Stanford Ranch Road in Roseville, as reported here Friday.

Since then, I've talked with Trone, president of Total Wine, who with his brother Robert founded the chain in Delaware in 1991, to get a better handle on what wine enthusiasts in the Sacramento area can expect at the Roseville store.

"We offer the lowest prices in the market. Wines will be priced at Costco levels, which traditionally are the lowest. On top of that, we'll have the best selection, with over 8,000 wines, 2,000 spirits and 1,000 beers. We'll offer a better choice than anyone else in the market. But the real key will be the service. Our men and women on the floor will be in white shirts and ties, and they can talk about the right wine with the right food at the right price," says Trone in explaining the company's business strategy.

He said he and his brother have been scouting California for sites - up to now the group has been concentrated largely along the Eastern seaboard and in the South - and were drawn to Roseville because of its fast growth, high family incomes and the choice location, which he anticipates to be as attractively accessible to residents of Sacramento, Marysville, Elk Grove, Lake Tahoe and Reno as well as the immediate vicinity.

Sometimes pictured as the Wal-Mart of wine merchandising, though more upscale and personable, Total Wine could pose a threat to small independent wine shops springing up in and about Roseville, Rocklin and Lincoln, but Trone doesn't see it that way. "The small stores will continue to do a great job and succeed. They often have locations with an advantage, and if the owners know their patrons and give great service, they will continue to succeed," he says.

Total Wine's stiffest competition likely will come from the six branches of Beverages & More (BevMo) in the area, but Trone is undaunted by the challenge. "BevMo is more a party store than a wine store. That's where you go to get what you need for a party, like gifts, foods and accessories. They don't have our selection, and they have no service to speak of. We have lower prices across the board, and our stores are twice as big as theirs. We're a fine-wine store, not a bare-bones party store like BevMo. We're America's wine superstore, with 8,000 (individual choices) of wine. BevMo has less than 3,000. Our whole ambience is more upscale. Our interior is more like Whole Foods Market."

Residents in and about Roseville soon will find out for themselves.

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