Wegmans fined more than $1.1 million for illegally operating liquor stores

Posted at 6:59 PM, Nov 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-21 19:06:20-05

Wegmans Food Corporation and five affiliated liquor stores have been fined $1,125,000 by the New York State Liquor Authority for availing their liquor license.

The SLA accepted $750,000 to settle eight charges from Wegmans. In addition, the SLA accepted offers totaling $375,000 from the five affiliated liquor stores.

The Amherst Street Wines and Liquors in the only store in the Buffalo area to receive the fine.

The press release states, in part:

The SLA received a complaint that a liquor store, Amherst Wine Partners LLC, doing business as “Amherst St Wines & Liquors” in Buffalo, was allowing Wegman’s Food Corporation to effectively control their business by managing purchasing and pricing decisions, as well as the relationship between Amherst Wine and various wholesalers. The SLA investigation determined Wegman’s Food Corporation, which is not licensed to traffic in wine or spirits in New York State, was exercising significant control over Amherst St Wines & Liquors, in addition to four other affiliated stores including Whitehouse Liquor & Wine in Rochester, Johnson City Liquor & Wine in Johnson City, Pittsford Century Wines & Spirits in Rochester, and Liquor City Wine & Liquors in Fayetteville.

A Wegmans spokesperson issued this statement:

"We categorically deny the New York State Liquor Authority’s assertion that we exercise control over any liquor store in New York. What these stores have in common is that each is individually owned by a Wegman family member, and each owner is trying to run their store like we run Wegmans, with low prices, great selection and great service.

It’s unfortunate that the SLA chose to credit complaints from competitors of these liquor stores over the actual facts presented to them during the investigation.

Our job as a retailer is to seek out unique products that offer the best value to our customers. This includes our wine and spirits business, which has grown tremendously in our stores outside of New York State.

New York State law does not permit us to sell these products, but wholesalers we work with have made them available to all New York State liquor stores. In fact, they are carried by stores that have no connection to Wegmans whatsoever.

The NYSLA recently informed us of their position that only a licensed New York wholesaler can perform some of the steps involved in bringing these products to the New York market. Wegmans, which conducts its business with the very highest integrity, immediately cooperated and corrected the alleged violation.

The good news is that New Yorkers will continue to have access to the same great wines and spirits that we are able to offer to our customers in other states.

With regard to the size of the fine, we say this: Everything costs more in New York State, except shopping at Wegmans."

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