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Online grocery shopping

Crystal Lalley, hiring and training coordinator with GrocerKey, shows an order at Woodman's on Madison's west side. Responding to a nationwide trend of grocery stories offering online ordering, Madison’s City Council approved a new ordinance Tuesday allowing curbside pick-up of alcohol.

In a second attempt, the Madison City Council overturned Mayor Paul Soglin’s veto of an ordinance that would allow patrons to order alcohol online and pick up merchandise in a designated parking area of the store.

Soglin vetoed the “click and collect” legislation and two licenses granted under the new ordinance Jan. 23. At a Feb. 7 council meeting, the motion to override the veto failed on a 12-4 vote. Overturning a veto requires 14 votes.

The council voted Tuesday 14-5, with one alder absent, to overturn Soglin's veto. Alds. Barbara Harrington-McKinney, District 1; Marsha Rummel, District 6; Paul Skidmore, District 9; Samba Baldeh, District 17; and Rebecca Kemble, District 18, voted in favor of upholding the veto. Ald. Larry Palm, District 12, was absent.

Soglin, who was absent from Tuesday’s meeting, has argued it is safer for transactions to be completed within establishments and that the new method is designed to benefit larger retailers at the expense of small, locally owned businesses.

“The mayor’s concern is one that cannot be met,” Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said. “He just disagrees with the whole premise behind this option of convenience, so there’s no compromising.”

Verveer, who sponsored the ordinance, emphasized that the ordinance will be beneficial for residents who are older, have disabilities or are parents with small children.

Under the ordinance, retailers that want to include alcohol in their online sales would apply for an extension of their licensed premises to include a designated area outside the store where customers can pick up their online orders.

The ordinance includes restrictions to prevent the underage purchase of alcohol including limiting pick-up hours between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. and requiring a four-hour waiting period between time of sale and order pick-up. Orders placed after 2 p.m. would not be able to be picked up until the following day.

Payment for the purchase must also be completed on the premises after the buyer has presented a valid photo ID verified by a licensed operator employed by the establishment.

With the override, the Walmart on Nakoosa Trail and the Pick ‘n’ Save, owned by Roundy’s, on Junction Road can offer the “click and collect” option. Brieanna Cotten, assistant real estate manager for Roundy’s grocery stores, said customers want to have the convenience of picking up grocery orders made online.

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“The retail market is changing,” Cotten said. “It’s Roundy’s goal to continue its tradition in Wisconsin as a strong retailer by changing with the market trends.”

However, Rummel pushed back against adapting to market trends if the result hurts smaller, locally owned stores.

“When they start disappearing like all the other small ‘mom and pops,’ please know that we played a small part,” Rummel said. “To me it’s about the density of alcohol outlets. How do you grow our local economy?”

Bob Hemauer of Cork ‘n’ Bottle on East Johnson Street urged the council to uphold the veto because of the advantage he says the ordinance gives to larger stores. He would like to pursue the “click and collect” option, but the store does not have its own parking area or pickup spot.

“Consider the consequences of legislating competitive advantages to out-of-state big box competitors versus small neighborhood stores without access to parking,” Hemauer said. “I urge you to not overturn the veto out of a sense of fairness, if nothing else.”

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Abigail Becker joined The Capital Times in 2016, where she primarily covers city and county government. She previously worked for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and the Wisconsin State Journal.