Super-cheap booze at Total Wine fuels pricing fight

Total Wine & More in Natick, as pictured in 2015. The 24,000 square foot superstore in Natick's Cloverleaf Mall was its first location in Massachusetts.
Total Wine & More in Natick, as pictured in 2015. The 24,000 square foot superstore in Natick's Cloverleaf Mall was its first location in Massachusetts. –Pat Greenhouse / The Boston Globe

It’s not illegal for a business to sell a product below cost — unless, of course, it’s a bottle of booze.

As more big chains expand in the Massachusetts alcohol market, state regulators are cracking down on their aggressively low prices, enforcing a longstanding rule that bans retailers from selling alcohol for less than what they paid.

Now, the country’s largest alcohol retailer, Total Wine & More , is fighting back, suing the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission over sanctions the agency issued to its two Massachusetts stores for allegedly selling bottles of brand-name vodka, rum, and other liquors several dollars below cost.

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