Most of you know by now that we have stores-in-stores with Giant. (This is all part of what the PLCB calls an "extension of premises" of our license.) The first one opened in Enola back in November of last year, and the second opened in Mechanicsburg in February of 2009.
I think this model may ultimately be the model for Pennsylvania wineries to promote their products to local communities in the future. Giant grocery stores is a rather large corporate structure, and one that took me a little while to understand when I started working with them. See, I ran away from all things corporate and found refuge in the wine industry. I like flat organizations, and by that I mean small. Corporations, almost by definition, aren't small.
The interesting aspect of Giant is that it thinks very locally as a business. Of course, there's all the standard mass-market items you'd expect to find, but more than that you find locally grown produce and other products. Giant likes to partner with local businesses, and Allegro was just an extension of that idea.
Now, keep in mind that in no way was it a simple extension. Whenever the PLCB becomes involved, the bureaucracy ratchets up. Bottom-line, though, is that everything we did was within the letter of the law, and our license did not come about through any new legisalture. It was mostly brought about by the willingness of the folks at Giant to see things in a new way.
Back in 2005 (I think) we sold wine at a local grocery store in York using a "festival permit." It was a creative way to gain access to grocery store sales, and it worked really well until the PLCB started to deny similar applications in 2006. I approached the local grocery store-to-remain-nameless and told them that all they would need to do is to make an outside entrance in their building for me and I could be their permanently. The manager thought it was a great idea--as all his customers loved it--but the corporate folks at the unnamed store shot it down.
Fast forward a couple of years--and with a forward-looking partner in Giant--and we're selling wine in a grocery store again. Two, in fact, and things are going really well.
It really does come down to who you end up working with. Finding people who are on the same page as you. Giant--the grocery store chain--is an immense corporate structure. That said, it's also filled with people from central PA. These folks understand what central PA is all about. And they've been great to work with.
Thanks for everything, Cheryl, Tracy, Nick, Chantal, and especially Kerry. You all get it.