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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 recommended a new ordinance Wednesday allowing curbside pick-up of alcohol.

The Madison City Council approved a new ordinance at its meeting Tuesday that would allow retailers to provide curbside pick-up of alcohol.

Under the so-called click-and-collect 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.

Customers want the option of ordering groceries online, including alcohol, and picking them up without leaving their vehicle, said Brieanna Cotten, assistant real estate manager for Roundy’s grocery stores.

Accessibility and convenience are the primary goals, Cotten said.

“If you have screaming kids, you don’t want to go into the store and bring them along, as well as folks who don’t get around so well. It allows them to stay in their car,” Cotten said.

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 be completed on the premises after the buyer has presented a valid photo ID verified by a licensed operator employed by the establishment. Establishments must also record the image of the vehicle the order is loaded into, the license plate number, customer’s name and date of birth and the driver's license number and expiration date.

To support an online grocery model, Ald. Sara Eskrich, District 13, proposed an alternate ordinance that would have required the general merchandise sales of “click and collect” retailers to exceed their alcohol beverage sales on a weekly basis.

However, that proposal failed with some alders expressing concern for "mom and pop" shops.

Mayor Paul Soglin opposes the idea of patrons completing the sale of alcohol outside of retail establishments, characterizing it as a “drive through.” Some City Council members said Tuesday they believe Soglin will veto the ordinance and the two applications requesting the expanded premises.

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“I wouldn't want to disappoint anybody, so stay tuned,” Soglin said Wednesday.

Soglin alluded to a veto and said he would announce a decision between now and Monday. He said the “cool factor” of placing an order remotely isn’t novel. Before online shopping, there was ordering over the phone and by fax.

“The big difference is where the financial transaction takes place,” Soglin said. “The advantages of safety, of recording the sale in a well-lit store is a greater value than this change advocated by the big box store.”

Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, pushed back on Soglin’s characterization of “click-and-collect” programs as liquor store drive-throughs. The purpose is convenience and if a patron is still required to go into the store, “there’s no need for the ordinance,” Verveer said.

“Either you’re for allowing this convenience or you're against it with the mayor’s concept of having you go into the store physically and face-to-face instead of the transaction under these rules, under video surveillance by licensed bartenders and the recordings,” Verveer said.

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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.