Piggly Wiggly connects liquor section
One-stop purchase with groceries
By James Card
Piggly Wiggly is now the only place in Waupaca where a customer can purchase beer or liquor along with groceries in one purchase.
In February of 2021, Scott Neumann, owner of Piggly Wiggly, and store manager Arden Niemuth approached city hall and proposed a change in the law regarding alcoholic beverage sales.
Last August, the common council passed Ordinance 10-2021 amending section 12.02 (5)(e) of the Waupaca Municipal Code that made separate-entrance “beer caves” obsolete.
Previously, retailers selling alcohol needed a separate section of the building, a separate entrance and a separate cash register (although the two Kwik Trips in Waupaca have a check-out arrangement that allows cashiers to slip back and forth between the two counters).
Now a retail establishment can have a separate liquor department that is part of grocery or convenience store and a customer can purchase beer, whiskey, bacon, ice cream, and hot sauce in one transaction.
Not all retailers in Waupaca can take advantage of this without a massive remodeling.
For Piggly Wiggly, consultants from corporate headquarters helped Neumann with the remodel and interviewed contractors.
Construction started in early May. It was a matter of knocking down a wall where the old VHS video rental used to be and tearing out a bathroom.
They made a temporary check-out counter and hung a tarp to keep out the dust during the remodeling.
The old entrance of the liquor section will be covered with stonework that matches the building exterior.
More shelving was added and there is a bigger inventory with more selection.
For purchases, not all of the cashiers have to be licensed to sell alcohol; however, a supervisor on the floor overseeing the cashiers must be licensed. If a cashier is under 18 years old, the floor supervisor will scan the purchase for them.
“We’ve got a lot of positive comments on that. People were sick and tired of getting their groceries and then having to go back in to get their beer – especially in the summertime. We have a lot of tourists up here. If I had a nickel every time I was asked, ‘Where’s the beer? Oh, I’m sorry, you have to go outside and pay for it separate.’ Even the local people are very happy you can buy everything at once,” said Neumann.
Pick n’ Save opens liquor store
When Pick ‘n Save opened in Waupaca, they said they needed to be able to sell alcohol and the old ordinance was re-written for sales to be in a separate section with a separate entrance and register.
At that time in Waupaca, the only place a person could buy alcoholic beverages were at independent liquor stores. There was Cass Liquor where the Fulton Street Kwik Trip currently resides. It was known for a potholed parking lot and barely functioning beer coolers. Where the Udoni-Salan Realty office is located, there was Midtown Liquors. Cheesie Bob’s Bleu Cheese House in King was another. There was Southside Liquor that was located near where H.H. Hinder currently exists.
When the ordinance was passed, it hurt these businesses but it opened up opportunities for gas stations and grocery stores. Piggly Wiggly added their separate liquor section in 2000.
The beer and liquor section remodel is part of a store-wide makeover. In June, Piggly Wiggly redecorated its interior, making it more colorful. Soon, stand-up door coolers will be installed and will replace the lunch meat and dairy cases. They are more energy efficient and will look better.
Some work on the roof will be done and the floor problem was solved.
This past year, the professional floor cleaning company from Appleton cut their services because they had a hard time finding help. Neumann got a tip about an outfit from Green Bay. They came in and stripped the floor down and re-waxed it.
“I take a lot of pride in how my floors look. People notice that,” said Neumann.