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.