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Wine World superstore to open by Thanksgiving

Posted by Kate Bergman on October 11th, 2010

Wine lovers whose lust for the grape isn’t satisfied at local wine shops and grocery stores, start planning your trip to the Northwest’s largest wine store. Owner David LeClaire plans to open the 23,000-square-foot superstore Wine World at 400 NE 45th St. in Wallingford by Thanksgiving.

We toured the space, most recently an OfficeMax, with LeClaire while he and workers hurried to prepare the store for its new cork flooring, which will be installed this week.

The enormous store will “blow people away,” LeClaire said. “There’s nothing like what we’re doing in the Northwest.” With its location right off I-5, LeClaire intends for his Wine World to attract oenophiles from all over Puget Sound and beyond.

Northwest wines will take center stage at Wine World; they’ll occupy the entire west section of the store, in front of the dark purple wall pictured above. Along both sides of that purple wall will be tasting bars where wineries will pour samples five nights a week, as well as during the day on weekends. A large area to the right side of the store will be devoted to cheeses, charcuterie, chocolates and flowers.

On the north, pumpkin-colored wall will be beers and a cooler for wine. The green wall will be reserved for eco-friendly wines. The north side of the store will house high-end bottles in a reserve cellar, which will include vanity lockers, lounge chairs and a cigar humidor. The reserve cellar door will be locked because “you don’t want college students stashing a $400 bottle in their backpack,” LeClaire said.

This is the area for wines from outside the Northwest.

An event room (pictured above) with views to the south and west takes up half of the south side of the space. Part of that room will be a curtained “owners lounge” for LeClaire’s 14 investors (and counting) who have funded the $1.4 million venture. In the future, LeClaire plans to add a demo kitchen to the event space.

If either Initiative 1100 or 1105 passes and he can sell hard liquor, LeClaire has set aside space for artisan and harder-to-find liquors, he said. He would plan to leave the bulk sales of less expensive liquor to Costco. Of the initiatives, he said, “It’ll help us if either one passes, but 1100 would be best for us because we’d get a quantity discount on wine and beer as well as hard liquor.”

LeClaire is blunt about the biggest problem he anticipates with the new store — traffic, specifically shoppers trying to turn east on N. 45th after leaving the store: “You could have a great experience here, then wait for 10 minutes  at that stop sign and never want to come back.” He said that his staff will educate customers to drive from the parking lot north of the store (where there will be 36 spaces of free parking for Wine World) down the alley to get to 5th Ave. NE.

Good luck making a left turn onto N. 45th St. from this intersection. Take the alley behind Wine World instead, David LeClaire advises.

Since the news first broke that the massive wine store would open in Wallingford, we’ve heard fear for the smaller neighborhood stores such as City Cellars, a half mile to the east at 1710 N. 45th St. LeClaire would like to put any worries to rest: “City Cellars is a nice little wine store, but it’s not a destination. Neighborhood places will still serve the neighborhood; what we’ll do is draw people from all over.”

LeClaire pictures shoppers strolling through the store’s wide aisles, sipping a glass of wine, and taking their time with the excursion. “We want it to be like Ace Hardware meets Home Depot — a huge selection with service,” he said. “The idea is people won’t be overwhelmed, and they’ll feel they were helped. It’s not just shopping for wine, it’s an experience.”

Wine World will be open seven days a week till from 10 or 11 a.m. until 9 p.m.

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  • QAHill

    They're going to tell their customers to use an alley? And alley that is backed up by residential housing? Wow. What nice neighbors they are!!! How is it so hard to tell customers to drive North to 47th or 50th?

  • MLL

    I find the comment about college students offensive (and I am almost 40)…… “you don’t want college students stashing a $400 bottle in their backpack,” LeClaire said. First of all, do you really think college students will frequent your store? I wouldn't say they are your demographic. Secondly, someone's character determines if they think it is ok to steal, not their age.

  • http://www.fishingwithcliff.com/ Chris Cliff

    I know a few people that will be excited to hear this. As for me, I am perfectly fine to drink my pink 'wine' from a box in a 32oz cup, so they probably won't have a lot that interests me.

  • DB

    Wal-Wines. Ironically the biggest opponents to I-1105 is big beer and wine distibuters. Funny thing is you won't hear boo against having a big box wine store eventhough their arguments against I-1105 would fit here as well.

  • Krust99

    Calm down. OF COURSE THEY WILL FREQUENT THE STORE. As someone who works in retail I can confirm that college students and HS students will steal just about anything INCLUDING (and especially) alcohol. This shouldnt be shocking to anyone. Dont take offense just for the sake of being offended about something. This comment was perfectly reasonable.

  • Mhann

    Exactly my thought… wouldn't 4th work just as well as the alley to get to 47th without alienating the residents along the alley? Or do they mean there's an alley straight from the lot, east to 5th? Maybe that's it.

  • iyqtoo

    There's an alley on the north side of the store alright, a steep and very narrow affair between the building and a stone wall that comes out on 5th Ave NE where it is also the southbound I-5 exit to 45th Street. I've used it and doubt very many customers would want to take it more than once.

    Traffic coming down that ramp is not only fast, but cars are often jockeying for their preferred lane. Getting to an eastbound lane from that alley is questionable and risky. Leclaire's customers would probably find it easier and safer exiting to westbound 45th from 4th Ave NE, then using Latona & Thackeray where there are lights to get turned in the right direction.

  • MLL

    I am calm and not upset in anyway. I simply said I found the comment offensive. Perhaps it would have been better to say his comment was not well thought out? If as you say, students will be customers for this business then why would it be in his best interest to make negative comments about them? Or any customer for that matter?

  • Kerry

    the alley is not a residential alley. it goes straight from the parking lot to 5th, but it is super narrow (only room for one car at a time) and has really poor visibility. in the interest of safety, it should probably be made one way.

    i actually live in the apartments above the forthcoming wine world and i am curious to find out how its presence will affect us residents…

  • Kate

    Wal-Wine is accurate. Thanks, but no thanks. City Cellars Wine Shop IS a destination place for me. I have closer shops, but the owner is so freaking knowledgeable without being snobby that I keep coming back. He(I think his name is Michael) has a wall of super yummy wines for UNDER$10! And when I want to splurge, I get great advice and info.
    Thanks box wine baloney, but I'm sticking with the 'nice little wine store'.

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