Store switches liquor license

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LEE -- The Price Chopper supermarket chain returned its liquor license to the town on Monday, about two weeks after it stopped selling beer and wine at its store on West Park Street.

The 128-store chain decided to relinquish its license in Lee in order to sell beer and wine at a much larger supermarket that will open in Shrewsbury on Tuesday, Price Chopper spokeswoman Mona Golub said.

The Schenectady. N.Y.-based chain operates five of its nine Massachusetts stores in Berkshire County, and also sells beer and wine at its supermarkets in Pittsfield and Lenox. But state law prohibits an individual or business from holding more than three liquor licenses in Massachusetts.

Golub said the delay in returning the license occurred because Price Chopper was required to obtain a liquor license in Shrewsbury first before it could return its permit to the town of Lee.

"We secured it last week," said Golub, referring to the license in Shrewsbury. "The transfer was completed on Monday."

"I wish the law didn’t limit us," she said. "We’d like to sell wine and beer in every Massachusetts store."

Golub said the Shrewsbury supermarket is significantly larger than the Price Chopper in Lee, which is the fifth smallest store in the entire chain.

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"Beer and wine sales in Pittsfield and Lenox far exceed the ones in Lee," Golub said.

According to Golub, Price Chopper on Oct. 11 sent a letter to customers who had purchased beer and wine in Lee that it would be discontinuing that practice.

"We sent a personal letter to each and every individual in the Lee area who had purchased beer and wine in that store," she said. "About 3,000 people received it. The reaction has been positive to what the store will be gaining in its place."

Town Administrator Robert Nason did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

Golub said Price Chopper has decided to replace its beer and wine section in Lee with specialty cheeses, pizza and pasta meals, chilled roasted chickens, and a natural and organic food section.

"We reached out to customers and asked them what they would like the space to be filled with," she said.

Price Chopper currently operates the only supermarket in Lee. Big Y Foods is building a 48,000 square foot supermarket at the former Diesel Dan’s Truck Stop on Route 102 that is expected to open by the end of next year.


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