For an Upscale Treat, Try $2.99 Dollar Store Wine

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In the continued quest to become one-stop destinations, dollar stores have begun selling alcohol. While single beers go for $1 or less, only big spenders will opt for dollar store wine, which sells for $2.99 and up per bottle.

Cheap booze may be coming to a dollar store near you. Or already be in dollar store aisles as we speak. Dollar General and 99¢ Only stores have slowly been introducing beer and wine in select locations in Arizona and California, and plans are in the works for alcohol to spread to dollars stores in Nevada and beyond.

This fall, the Arizona Republic reported that 70 Dollar General and 99¢ Only franchises in Arizona had either applied or already received licenses allowing them to sell beer and wine. Unfortunately for penny pinchers, customers usually have to fork over more than $1 in order to walk away with some alcohol. Bottles of wine generally run $3, $4, and up, while six-packs of beer are available for $4. Some beers sold in singles are appropriately marked at 99¢ apiece at 99¢ Only stores, however.

Beer and wine may soon appear in the aisles of dollar stores in Nevada as well. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, 99¢ Only stores are applying to get approval to sell alcohol in a few Vegas-area locations.

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The rollout of beer and wine in these stores isn’t just about selling booze, however. Instead, the strategy centers on eliminating the need for customers to shop elsewhere. The thinking is that today’s time-crunched consumers desire convenience and one-stop shopping. “Adding beer and wine to our stores allows us to offer our customers a place where they can truly shop us first for everything,” 99¢ Only spokesperson Maider Izeta told the Review-Journal.

The push for one-stop shopping is hardly limited to dollar stores. It also includes supermarkets, some of which have opened on-site bars and restaurants and host happy hours ($1 bottles!), general purpose retailers like Target and Walmart (which have widely expanded grocery sections), and drugstore chains such as Walgreens, now home to sushi bars, salons, and fancy wine and craft beer sections. Convenience stores too, of course, are trying to sell themselves as more convenient than ever. Businessweek recently highlighted the efforts of 7-Eleven and other quick-stop chains to pump up hot prepared food selections, in order to steal business away from fast food franchises.

“What we’re seeing is, ‘Who really wants to be the inconvenient store?’” Jeff Lenard, spokesman for the National Association of Convenience Stores, told the Arizona Republic. “Everyone is looking more and more like a convenience store.”

Dollar stores have entered the fray as well, and not only in terms of introducing alcohol in stores. A much larger effort has been underway for years to convince shoppers they should buy groceries at dollar stores.

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The Dollar General “Market” concept—featuring stores about the size of a supermarket, with large grocery sections and ample fresh foods—has expanded quickly around the country, reaching 100 locations, according to the Tampa Bay Tribune.

The changes reflect a new marketplace in which dollar stores aren’t merely competing with other dollar stores, nor are drugstores or general purpose retailers only competing with their traditional rivals. Instead, all of these retailers are all mashed up in the same competition: They’re all trying to attract the business of shoppers who, ideally, can go to one store and get everything they need.