- Stew Leonard's Wine and Spirits locations will host a "Mexican Fiesta" at several locations Monday to celebrate the Trump administration's decision not to impose 5% tariffs on Mexican imports. The festivities, which are timed to the date when the tariffs would have gone into effect, will include margarita and tequila tastings.
- Wine and Spirits stores in Clifton, Paramus and Springfield, New Jersey will host the event along with locations in Norwalk, Danbury, and Newington, Connecticut.
- According to a news release, Stew Leonard's Wine and Spirits stores, which are run separately from the company’s grocery stores, sell "tens of thousands" of tequila and beer products imported regularly from Mexico.
Credit Stew Leonard’s for turning the Trump administration’s proposed tariffs into a promotional opportunity. In addition to Monday’s fiesta, the chain’s CEO Stew Leonard, Jr. was on Fox News recently discussing the potential impact of the tariffs on his business.
On the program, Leonard said his company would have absorbed a 5% tariff, but that a 10% charge or higher on imports would have gotten passed along to the customer. Leonard also took the opportunity to tout the chains locally sourced goods and to show off a few products on-camera.
Leonard’s note on pricing echoes the response of other retailers and suppliers to the proposed Mexican tariffs, which could have gone as high as 25%. The industry can breathe a sigh of relief following Friday’s news, delivered via tweet from President Trump, that the tariffs are “indefinitely suspended.” However, Trump has vowed to revisit the measure should the agreement not result in a marked decrease in illegal immigration from Mexico.
Grocers typically don’t like to weigh in on current events, and that’s understandable given the consumer outcry that can hound any retailer seen as taking sides. After news leaked that Publix had donated $670,000 to a gubernatorial candidate who strongly supported the National Rifle Association, protesters staged “die-ins” at some of the chain’s stores.
But shoppers also like it when retailers show some personality. And in Stew Leonard’s case, the focus is on the party rather than the politics. As grocers look to draw new customers and make shopping their stores less of a chore, they should, like Stew Leonard’s, play up the fun products they offer in ways that go beyond run-of-mill seasonal promotions and holiday specials.
Stew Leonard’s has a singular identity in the grocery industry and has become a customer favorite over the years. Its stores feature dancing animatronic milk cartons and a single-aisle setup that promotes a sense of exploration. Back in March, the chain broke ground on its first New Jersey grocery location — an 80,000-square-foot store located in the Paramus Park Mall.