The wine and liquor wholesaler BevMo! gained approval to move-in to a new location at 3212 Wilshire Boulevard. The CVS next door will reduce in size to allow for the space formerly occupied by Longs Drugs.
Based in Northern California, BevMo!, sells wine, beer, liquor at discounted prices. BevMo! stocks over 3,000 varieties of wine. The retailer also carries glassware and specialty foods.
The building will remain the same size, Commission approved the permit to sell alcohol unanimously.
Neighboring residents spoke against the chain’s presence causing debate about the store’s impact on the neighborhood. Multiple residents compared the addition of the wholesaler to inviting a Wal-Mart to the neighborhood.
Harry Sharafi who lives on Franklin Street, expressed concern that the reduced sale of a bottle of wine for five cents would draw the homeless and partiers to the area. Sharafi said there are plenty of wine shops without adding a “megastore.”
Jeff Sealy, vice president of real estate for BevMo!. said criminal activity was not an issue at other Los Angeles locations. The Wilshire location will not attract a late-night crowd as the store closes by 9 p.m. and most clientele shop for special occasions. The nickel deal is only valid after buying a bottle at full price.
Sealy said the retailer will not drive-out small convenience stores that offer items such as cigarettes and lotto tickets. “I understand what the concerns are and I think the concerns are unfounded,” Sealy said. “They survive because they sell things we don’t and refuse to sell.”
Commissioner Jay Johnson did not agree with the “big box store” statements. Johnson used the example of the creation of a department store to explain how “these things have evolved.”
The 10,500 square foot establishment does not admit anyone under the age of 21. The permit approved will allow for on-site beer and wine tasting. The tastings are limited to six one-ounce pours and cost a minimal fee.
The heavily trafficked area of Wilshire and Franklin raised concern for parking and traffic from the Commission and residents at the meeting. The City Staff report did not expect a change in either since the store will not reflect a change in use from the previous occupant.
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