Paper, plastic or pint? Grocery shopping trend takes root in D.C.

Andrew Mollenbeck, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Before hitting the produce or frozen foods sections, some grocery shoppers are stopping for a pint – and taking it with them as they check off their list.

Grocery stores have long adapted from being a routine errand, where the prominent choice was “paper or plastic.”

Across the region, stores have added coffee bars, miniature pubs and wireless Internet access. A glass of wine with an arugula salad, bread and olive oil is more common than chic.

But the Whole Foods in Tenleytown has taken it a step further, offering shoppers the opportunity to do something rather unfamiliar.

“We are one of the few stores in this area that is allowing customers to walk around and drink while they shop,” says Meg McGarry, the marketing team leader.

“You can get a glass of wine, get a beer and sit at the bar, or you can actually grab one of those beverages and go walk through the grocery store and enjoy your beverage while you shop,” she says.

This location serves wine and beer by the glass, in addition to its organic coffee bar.

Six beers are on tap, rotating about every two weeks.

The store also expanded its selection of bottled and canned beers to more than 200 varieties.

Now, the concept of a basket in one hand and a beverage in the other may sound like a perilous balancing act – a literal “spill the beans” moment.

But stores elsewhere have started providing holders for the carts, and this Whole Foods location is considering a similar option.

“Sometimes you need two hands to hold your grocery list and shop. If you have a holder for your pint glass as well, it’s going to be more convenient,” McGarry says

Here, the grocery-shopping-while-beverage-sipping started last fall.

It appears to take some getting used to, as customers say they’re surprised to hear about it, before considering it to be a tasty option.

McGarry says most customers have limited themselves to a single drink while picking up the groceries.

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