November 28 2017

Busa Wine & Spirits Closing: Wine 'Superstore' Acquiring Its Liquor License

By: Rich Hosford

A longtime Burlington liquor store is closing and a new business is taking over its liquor license.


On Monday the Board of Selectmen approved the transfer of the Busa Wine & Spirits (State Road Liquor Mart, Inc. d/b/a Busa Liquors) license to Total Wine & More (Total Wine Spirits Beer & More).  


According to its website, Total Wine and More is “America’s Wine Superstore” and is the largest independent retailer of wine in the country. It was founded in Delaware in 1991 and now operates 173 stores across 21 states. The Burlington location will be its fifth location in Massachusetts. It currently has stores in Everett, Danvers, Natick and Shrewsbury.


Attorney Mark Vaughan of Riemer & Braunstein, representing the business, said the plan is for it to take over the license that Busa operates in the Crossroads Plaza at 34 Cambridge Street. The new Total Wine will be located in the plaza but not in the same building. Instead it is planning to occupy Unit 10 of the site, currently being used by the Bauer Hockey store.


Attempts to contact Bauer Hockey for comment or for further information on whether it is closing or moving were not returned.


Edward Cooper, VP Of Public Affairs for Total Wine & More, says the company needs the space provided by that location for its inventory. He said the store carries roughly 8,000 different wines, 3,000 spirits and 2,500 beers. He said the company, which is family owned, also tries to support local wineries, breweries and distilleries and feature their products.


Members of the Board of Selectmen asked the business representatives about its policies to ensure alcohol is not sold to minors.


Vaughan said the stores use electronic ID verifications and that if anyone tries to use an out-of-state or other non-standard Massachusetts driver’s license a manager must approve the sale. He also said that any vendor at the store giving samples must also check all identifications before serving.


“They are familiar with Massachusetts regulations in terms of the sale of alcohol and are very proud to say they have never once been cited for serving to minors,” he said. “They have a state-of-the-art identification program to ensure the law is enforced.”


Cooper said the company also works to be a partner with the communities in which it operates.  


“In terms of being involved in the community we do philanthropic efforts,” he said. “Last year worked with over 9,000 charity organizations and made cash and in-kind donations in excess of $7 million and helped them raise between $35 and 40 million. We want to be invested in the community and when we build a store we do a long-term lease and intend to stay there.”


He also said that to operate a store of this size they will need to hire roughly 50 employees and that three-fourths of them will be full-time.


Before voting on the license transfer some of the Board of Selectmen members wanted to acknowledge Busa Wine & Spirits and its long-standing presence in the community.  


“For a long time they have been part of our community and they have always been a good neighbor,” Chairman Chris Hartling said.


“The fact is you are following a landmark business in town,” he told the representatives from Wine & More.


Dan Busa, one of the owners of the family business, said he wanted to thank the town and the board and all the past boards for their support.


“We’re still a small business and this has been the livelihood that paid the bills and put our kids through college,” he said. “I thank the town for how it treated the Busa family, it’s always treated us fairly.”


In the end the board voted unanimously to approve the transfer of the alcohol license.


The switch will not happen right away, nor will Busa shutter immediately. Vaughan explained that the transfer still needs approval from the state and during that time Busa Wine & Spirits will operate as normal. He said 10 days after the state approves the transfer the license will officially go from one entity to the other. This, he added, will not happen until after the holiday season.  


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