When it comes to liquor stores in the Sacramento area, there are two mega-powerhouses in the arena: BevMo and Total Wine and More. Since stocking up the home liquor cabinet is a practical concern for anyone reading this, we thought it would be fun to see how these two titans of intoxication stack up against each other. Without further ado, let’s call the ring announcer over and see what the tale of the tape is for our two combatants.
Fighting out of the blue corner is the challenger. Founded in 1991 in Delaware, boasting 75 stores, and claiming the title of America’s Wine Superstore–Total Wine and More! Next, fighting out of the red corner, is the reigning champion. Founded in 1994 in the Bay Area, recording in excess of 500 million dollars in sales annually, BevMo! This looks like an exciting bout, so let’s get it on!
Round One: Locations
BevMo! has had a distinctive edge in this category up until recently. All of BevMo’s 101 stores are in California or Arizona, with seven locations in the Sacramento area. Total Wine has been an East Coast company, but lately has been challenging BevMo! on their own turf, opening stores in both Arizona and California. BevMo! has stores in Natomas, Arden-Arcade, Folsom, Citrus Heights, Elk Grove, and two in Roseville, establishing their base in every heavy traffic area. Not easily overwhelmed, Total Wine just had a Grand Opening on Arden and Howe to complement their Roseville store. Though Total Wine is standing up to the challenge, BevMo! wins this round.
Round 1 goes to BevMo! handily, 10-8.
Round Two: Selection
The defending champion BevMo! is definitely a Wonderland of alcohol, with over 3000 types of wine, 1200 kinds of beer, and 1800 different spirits. Enter the challenger: Total Wine and even more now joins the fray. When it comes to wine, it isn’t even close, as Total Wine completely dominates in selection and floor space. About half of Total Wine’s square footage devoted to wine, as you would expect. Remarkably, Total Wine also roughs up BevMo! with about twice the selection of varieties of beer. Granted, not many people are going to ever try all of those extra 1200 craft beers, but it is pretty cool to have them available. But here comes the kicker: Total Wine also has a walk in cooler with self-service kegs while at BevMo!, getting a hold of a keg takes more time than this, and is therefore getting schooled in this category as well. What about hard liquor though? Total Wine also edges out BevMo! in this sub-section, with about twice as many selections as the incumbent BevMo!. Many expensive liquors that normally require you to get assistance from a clerk to open the locked case at BevMo! you can just grab off the shelf at Total Wine. Two full aisles of vodka at Total Wine push it over the top, and if that didn’t, two different BevMo’s I went to did not have Sloe Gin, and Total Wine did. All that being said, I can’t say this round is a complete ass-kicking, as BevMo! still gets credit for having thousands of varieties of alcohol to choose from.
Round 2 winner: Total Wine, 10-9.
Round 3: Price
Now this is the deciding factor for most of us. After all, this is the website dedicated to making sure you get your drink on for as little money as possible (at least here in Sactown). What I found when I perused the free buying guide that you can pick up at Total Wine is that they beat BevMo! at pretty much every single item on my ingredient list by a dollar or three. I was about to give Total Wine the 10-8 win for this round, but wait…I discovered that BevMo! will match any Total Wine price and then beat it by a penny. But, it is on you, the customer to present the competing ad to the BevMo! clerk in order to receive your 1¢. Of course, BevMo! has their 5¢ Wine sale, but speaking honestly, I don’t drink too much wine, just a lot of liquor and dark beer.
Round 3 winner: Draw, 10-10.
Round 4 in this Epic Battle: Extras
Both BevMo! and Total Wine have cigars, but Total Wine has an entire humidifier room, BevMo! has an island. Both have glasses and bar accessories, Total Wine just has a lot more. BevMo! has the edge in snacks and micro-batch sodas. I guess it just depends on what you value, but I gave the nod to Total Wine because they just had more stuff that I would be likely to buy. Both competitors have an in-house expert that blogs about wine, so the online extras are a wash.
Round 4 victor: Total Wine, 10-9.
Fifth and Final Round: Staff and Customer Service
Total Wine goes pretty far out of their way to make sure their stores are properly staffed; they have about 200 more employees with 25 less stores. Most of these Total Wine employees are knowledgeable in wine sales. BevMo! also has wine tasting nights regularly. I’m going to have to go with personal experience here: BevMo! employees always come up to me pretty quick and make sure I find what I’m looking for, especially lately. This is really helpful when I’m trying to find something specific, like a dessert wine that I read about, or a certain type of liquor that I need for a YouTube video. BevMo! gets the nod for consistency over time.
Final Round winner: BevMo!, 10-9.
And the Winner of this Face-Off Is…
My judges scorecard after five grueling rounds shows BevMo! winning the decision 48-47.
Winner and still Champion: BevMo!, 48-47. Honestly, this decision could have gone either way and I don’t think the crowd would react negatively. If these two fortresses of fermentation went head to head again in a year’s time, we might have an entirely different winner.
I hope you enjoyed this inaugural Face-Off of BevMo! vs Total Wine; feel free to leave suggestions for future heavyweight bouts in the comments below.
Great post, thanks for the exciting bout!
While the first fight might be over, we have a few things you didn’t mention up our sleeves to help us win by a knock-out the next go-round.
We offer fantastic wine, beer and spirits classes in every month except December, also we make our classroom available to the community to use for FREE (just e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to make a request).
If this isn’t enough, how about overt bribery?
We’d love to have you attend one of our beer classes on us! Just send an e-mail to email@example.com and we’ll get you all set.
I manage our social media as well, I’d love to connect on Twitter/FB so we can keep in touch.
Thanks for the support, we look forward to seeing you again soon!
Product education manager
Total Wine & More
Glad you enjoyed reading this article. I did see your follow on Twitter, and I was happy to follow back. I found you on Facebook as well and added Total Wine and More to our Page Favorites.
I had seen the conference room and had wondered about it, glad to know that it can be booked by the public. Very cool.
I just shopped there this morning for an ingredient for one of our YouTube recipes, and one of your clerks was helpful in helping me find it. I like your morning cashier at my local TW&M as well, he’s laid back and very mellow.
I think I will take you up on attending a beer class; it sounds interesting.
Thanks again for your correspondence, Your stores will definitely see me again soon.
Owner and Editor
I am going to the January event, Greg. I’m looking forward to it a lot. Hope your holidays were excellent and thanks very much for picking up on this article so quickly last month.
Hey I hear Total Wine has an awesome wine tasting for like 12 cents on Fri & Sat you can taste wine and beer and I hear its not cheap wine either and they have snacks I am planning on checking it out soon
I am down to check it out any Friday that you guys want to. Saturdays too, as long as it’s not too late in the day. Thanks for your Facebook comment , too. I’ve been working as hard as I can on the site, overhauling the information architecture on the happy hours section because I saw how big it was going to need to be to work…glad you like it, the best is yet to come!
What a bunch of crap, Johnny must be on the payroll for Bevmo. I thought Bevmo was great when came into the Phoenix market a few years ago but now that Total Wine has opened here it is no contest. Their selection and prices kick butt and the store is so much more inviting then Bevmo which looks like a temporary store or warehouse. Total Wine just opened a store in Scottsdale a block from a Bevmo and is killing it, their sales people are so much more knowledgeable about the products and the place just has more class than a Bevmo which is more like Costco.
Nope, McLancey, I’m not on the payroll for either side. My wallet would know otherwise. Although if it is a consolation to you, since I wrote this article, I’ve shopped at Total Wine probably 5 or 6 times (if not more), and I think BevMo maybe once or twice. Convenience is one factor, but price and selection are big ones for me too. I already want to do a rematch of this article sometime in 2012.
……IIRC, THE $13.99 FOR CROWN ROYAL AT TW IS LOWER THAN THAT OF BEVMO.
Over here, BevMo is doing price matching…at least for now. If it’s any consolation, I pretty much shop at Total Wine all the time now. It’s open an hour earlier and it’s on my route as I go to and fro.
Just wanted to let you know that we just opened the doors on our newest location in the Sac area – Folsom!
Let me know if you’re able to check it out. Lots of great tastings going on this weekend and the next.
Looking forward to a re-match in 2012 …
Whoops – make that 2013!
Hi Greg, Folsom is probably closer to where my home base is now. I look forward to checking out the latest location. Total Wine really cannot be beat for selection or price.
I’ve shopped both of these and although selection is great at Total knowledge and service FAR outweigh it. Bevmo matches prices and BEATS it plus when I want to buy wines Total will suggest a wine but cant describe anything about it. At least at Bevmo they know what the wines about. Along with that there’s beer and wine tastings with great knowledge of the employees. I just hope you’re fair in your assessment in the end. Thank you.
Hello, John. I’ve shopped both in the last few weeks. I think in 2013 Total Wine has a better selection. Knowledge of liquor itself seems to depend on the location (for both). I’ve never been disappointed in service at Total Wine, and I’ve had a range of service at BevMo in the last year (nothing too bad), but very good recently. Total Wine beats on everyday price; BevMo will still match price if you ask, I believe. If the distance was equal, I would shop Total Wine at this point, but BevMo is closer to where I’m at now.
With just a quick glance over I would have thought it was not even close. You mention TW beatse BEVMO in almost all catogories. Which is what I believe. From Selection, Service and expirience (yes it is an expirience) TW wins hands down.
Since this article was originally written, I would completely agree with you, Jamie. The only downside to Total Wine & More (in my area, at least) is that I wish there were more locations. Perhaps in time, but speaking in 2013, I think they kick ass on price, selection, and service.
Great review and very fair summation. I think for my purposes though Bevmo has fallen out of favor with me personally for my needs. They stopped carrying a beloved mead of mine, Lindisfarne, they barely stock the other mead Bunratty. Bevmo in my area charges 19.99 for Bunratty mead, when they used to charge 14.50 for it. Total Wine still sells it for 14.50, so for mead my choice is now Total. As for beers, I love Total Wines selection. With Bevmo they usually have a lot of expensive pints, or 4 and 6 packs of craft beer. With Total win they have a huge section of beers that were meant to be in a 4 or 6 pack being sold individually so you can mix and match, and try several different types. This to me allows you to explore beer options more flexibly than Bevmo.
Thanks Patrick. The further time goes on, the more I favor Total Wine. BevMo in my area is still beating their prices by one cent, but they have to verify the prices, which seems to take a lot more time than I’m willing to spend. Total Wine beats them in selection, but though they have 3 locations here now (I think it was only two when I wrote this first), the closest Total Wine to where I live is a bit of a drive. BevMo has more locations that are closer, and unless I’m already going somewhere close to TW&M, BevMo usually serves my needs.
The exception to this is when I actually need something out of the ordinary. I needed blueberry schnapps, and BevMo had it, Total Wine did not. When I purchased Bunratty Mead a while back, Total Wine was the only place I even thought about going. If Total Wine had one or two more locations in the area, I think this would be more a slam dunk win for them, but I think they will win out in the long run.
I live in Sacramento and in my opinion the comparison isn’t even close. BevMo is much more expensive and has a smaller selection. The first time I walked into a TW store and saw their lower prices, I was pissed at how long I’d overpaid at BevMo. As a result I’m stunned at the ridiculous opinion of this article. And don’t bother responding. I won’t be back.