Change Is Painful For Some

I called a number of local liquor store owners this morning to ask for arguments against allowing wine sales in grocery stores.  I’ll say this…they are all on the same page, short as it is.  I heard the exact same arguments each time, and I have to admit even the most compelling is probably not enough to stop this legislation.  As a former small business owner, I am well acquainted with the night sweats that occur when you have placed everything you own into your business, or borrowed heavily to start in the first place.  One owner told me he invested in the liquor business based on the laws in place at the time, that is, that only licensed liquor stores could sell wine and spirits.  Changing the rules after the fact seemed pretty unfair to him.  That seems reasonable enough, but as I stated above, absent a viable class-action lawsuit, probably not convincing enough to stop this legislation.

The “what about the kids” argument falls flat.  End of argument.

But the whole approach to liquor sales in this state and in Georgia strikes me as unfair.  One example:  As a bar owner, i was forced to buy certain products from certain distributors.  If the sales rep failed to come by to take my order, I wasn’t allowed too buy that product from anyone else, at any price.  Thats a pretty cozy arrangement for the distributors, is it not?

Another argument that seems a bit of a stretch, but certainly not impossible, is whether or not big box grocery chains might be able to qualify for rebates based on bulk purchases like they do with certain soda manufacturers?  If Publix agrees to purchase 20,000 cases of Ripple, the winery agrees on a 10 cent rebate per bottle, thereby allowing Publix to sell their product slightly cheaper.  Isn’t that what all big box stores do?  Walmart doesn’t negotiate the purchase of a dozen hammers…they buy a couple of boatloads of hammers at a time, right?

I like the idea of local dollars staying local, but I don’t think you can mandate that.

The last owner flat out said that deregulating alcohol sales was a bad thing, period.  He then proceeded to say that in a “conservative” State like Tennessee, we should be leading the charge against.  I didn’t have the heart…



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11 responses to “Change Is Painful For Some

  1. Jon

    >Changing the rules after the fact seemed pretty unfair to him.

    Seems to me that having the state guarantee you a monopolist privilege to a a product was unfair to everyone else *before* the fact.

    Not to equate the importance, certainly, but it’s the exact same *kind* of thinking that might say emancipating the slaves was unfair to all those people who spent good money investing in slaves. Pretty unfair to change the rules after they fact, eh?

  2. Jon, yea, i get that. Like people investing in horses and buggys right before the automobile…

  3. Here in GA, we have the slightly more obnoxious, “Can’t sell beer or wine on Sunday”, unless you go to a bar and buy it by the glass. Apparently God likes the socialization aspect.

    I have heard people, who typically want to hide the religious nature of it, say “It’s always been like that.” or similarly, “It’s been like that all my life.”

    As if that’s an argument.

  4. Pingback: Wine Sales In Grocery Stores | Speak to Power

  5. democommie


    That initiative just got voted down up here in NY. The local liquor stores carry a fair number of wines and liqours. If you want variety you go to Syracuse or Rochester.

    Wegman’s (a very good grocery store) has been pushing this initiative. They have not, afaia, been a bad neighbor in other regards and a lot of people would like to see more variety in the stores. Of course if I want to shop at Wegman’s I still have to drive 25 miles to Clay.


    I think the real point is this. If you’re going to go out and have a few “pops” on Sunday you might as well go to church, too:)

  6. Sorry, I understand the concerns the store owners might have with competition for business, but this is the real world. There are no guarantees in life when it comes to business. I have no guarantee that because I’ve worked here over 20 years that I’ll have a job next week. That liquor store owner has no guarantee he will continue to be one of three or four wine salespersons in the area.

    That’s called life.

  7. Of course you’re right Jim, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some pain involved.

  8. Demo, I was raised catholic, so we did drink at church.

  9. democommie

    Boy, Exador, you musta been raised a lot later than me. We never did get near the wine (except for a few altar boys who would swipe one of the bottles of “Sacramental” Reisling from the cupboard in the sacistry).

  10. A catholic Irishman? What are the odds?

  11. Yeah, I know. There’s pain and you feel it in their tone & voice and in your guts. Showing empathy is like having your liberal card laminated. 🙂

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