Back in January, I mentioned that a new liquor store was coming to Stoneham. A liquor license was granted to RWJ Beverage LLC. and they have now opened a small store within B.J.'s Wholesale Club. I previously had some concerns about whether this would be the type of store that I would like, whether it would be a place for wine lovers or not.
I have checked out the new store a couple times now, and should note that some minor changes were made since my original stop. But, much of my concerns about this store seem to have been realized.
The store is roughly rectangular with wine and alcohol on three sides, plus two rows of wine bins in the middle of the store. There is a small, windowed case for some of the more expensive items.
They sell some hard liquor though their selection is more limited than many other stores. For example, they only have eight brands of vodka, from Gordon's to Ketel One. Prices are good and that seems to be the primary reason why many will buy alcohol here. Though you can find other stores with similar competive prices, such as Rapid Liquors in Stoneham.
There are about 100 different wines available, approximately 90% costing less than $20. There are many familiar brands, such as Yellowtail and Beringer. They seemed to be heavy on California wines and I was not keen on their diversity. This is not a place where I found anything unique or unusual. But, prices are good and that will be a drawing point for some. For example, the Caymus Conundrum only cost $22, as opposed to the more usual $27-$30.
There were only about five higher-end wines in their windowed cabinet, from a 2006 Stag's Leap Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon ($45) to a 2006 Concha Y Toro Don Melchor ($60). Those prices are only about 10% less than usual retail so they are not significantly discounted.
The store will likely undergo some further minor changes in the near future but they are not headed in the direction I would prefer. This is not a destination for wine lovers but rather a place to go to save a little money on ordinary wines and liquors. Though my preference, if I want to save money and get a better selection of wine and alcohol, I will continue going to Rapid Liquors.
Update as of 6/22/09 (2:30pm): I had an informative conversation with Mike Reardon of RWJ Beverage. He explained much about the model for his wine/liquor store, future plans, and other such matters. It was a very positive conversation and I will be sharing my insights soon. In short, Mike is really trying to improve the store and make it a worthwhile destination.