Major alcohol retailer BevMo! is planning to open a store in Santa Barbara, offering beer, wine and liquor at an outlet on the corner of De La Vina and State Streets.
The company has purchased liquor licenses and submitted plans to a local review board, which must approve the project before construction can begin. No opening date has been set.
The store would be the next addition to over 100 other branches around the country. Company representative Anne Parsons said the store would create a positive atmosphere for shoppers.
“We want to create a nice environment in the store we provide,” Parsons said.
Though the city has not yet approved the store, BevMo! has already met fierce resistance from a contingent of community members who worry the store will be too close to schools or impact parking in the area.
Santa Barbara resident Roberta Martinez said she is concerned about the possibility of the new store.
“This place is going to be problem,” Roberta Martinez, a Santa Barbara local since 1990 who lives near the proposed site, said. “I’ve heard that it’s going to be near a school. We have enough to worry about without our kids getting a hold of alcohol.”
The location is another cause of concern for resident Daniel Libolt, who worries it could create parking issues on State Street.
“I don’t see why State Street would be a good location,” Libolt said. “It’s kind of like the Walmart of wine, and you never see a Walmart without a big parking lot.”
Despite the opposition of some residents, others do not see an issue with the store. Area resident Jack Rossi said he would welcome the variety of products at BevMo!
“I don’t see the problem with it,” Rossi said. “I can’t see a lot of kids actually getting away with getting alcohol or anything, so what’s the problem?”
BevMo! would present significant competition to other alcohol retailers. One local vendor, however, said he is unconcerned about the competition. Bob Wesley, owner of The Winehound in downtown Santa Barbara, said he is confident his wine selection can compete with BevMo!
“Any other store that sells the same product as you should be looked at as competition,” Wesley said. “BevMo! does a very good job with beer, but their wine selection just isn’t very good. It is more along the lines of a supermarket selection.”
In response to community criticisms of the BevMo! store, Parsons said the company is focused on serving its customers.
“We don’t want to cause any trouble, just provide the people of Santa Barbara with good selection and service,” Parsons said.