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Falls Approves Grocery Store Wine, Beer Sales

Following a thorough discussion and consideration, the Falls Township Supervisors set the wheels in motion for a Township grocery store to offer beer and wine sales.

With an eye on ensuring residents’ safety and convenience when purchasing wine and beer, the Supervisors unanimously approved the transfer of a liquor license from Nockamixon Township to the Giant Food Store located at 471 S. Oxford Valley Road in Falls. The transfer makes the Giant location the first major store in Falls to operate a restaurant with a liquor license.

The inter-municipal liquor license transfer was approved followed a public hearing which drew no public comment or questions. A hearing is required when the receiving municipality has equal to or more liquor licenses than the state-allotted 1 per every 3,000 residents. Falls Township has more than the designated amount, according to township attorney Mike Clarke.

The license permits the grocery store to create a 30-seat restaurant area where customers could buy and consume alcohol along with hot buffet food items, various entrees and a grab and go station, according to Giant attorney, Ellen Freeman. Customers would only be permitted to drink alcohol onsite if food items were purchased as well, she said.

Similar setups are in place in the 64 other Giant stores statewide that offer beer and wine sales. Other grocery store chains, including Wegmans and ShopRite, have been selling beer and wine in their stores for the last 10 years.

Beer and wine would be available for carryout at the Giant store in Falls, but quantities would be limited to two six-packs of beer or four standard bottles of wine. Alcohol sales would be permitted only at cash registers within the designated restaurant area and only between the hours of 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday. After those times, the beer and wine aisles would be chained off and alcoholic beverage cases would be locked.

Alcohol sales account for about 5 percent of Giant’s total sales, Freeman told the board.

“It seems a pretty large investment for 5 percent of your business,” Supervisors Chairman Bob Harvie said, noting that a neighboring ShopRite also sells beer and wine and inquired about the need to add 30 seats.

The state requires a minimum of 30 seats, Freeman said, adding that some Giant stores opt for bar seating, while others use tables and chairs. In both setups the store permits customers to consume a maximum of two beers onsite. Store personnel undergo special training to determine if someone is intoxicated and how to spot a fraudulent ID. Giant has a 100 percent carding policy meaning that every customer is asked for identification at the time of purchase.

“It takes all the gray area out of selling alcohol,” Freeman said. “It protects the public as well to be sure that everyone is carded.”

As the Supervisors contemplated adding another liquor license in the Township, Freeman pointed out that none of the 64 other Giant stores in Pennsylvania have ever been cited.

“They have a perfect record,” she said. 

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