Whats The Real Beef Over Wine Sales?

The fight over whether “grocery stores” should be allowed to sell wine rages on, it appears.  This is an issue about which I am completely neutral.  The sale of wine in Kroger’s just won’t affect me in any way.  We buy wine, and we go to a liquor store to do so.

What I dislike about this contentious issue is the dishonest way both sides are making their case.  You’d have to be a complete moron (or, perhaps a Tennessee state assemblyman) to believe that allowing grocery stores to sell wine will magically produce thousands of jobs.  It won’t.  The State would be forced to hire additional agents to inspect and approve new licensees, but after the initial rush, what on earth would they do, except add to the already strained State budget?  The distributors won’t be hiring too many new delivery drivers, why would they?  They will sell the roughly the same amount of wine as before, except they would then have to service thousands of new accounts to do so.  And, to that point, would there be thousands of new accounts?  What qualifies as a grocery store?  Will Governor Haslam’s family business, Pilot Oil, suddenly make the cut? How about farmer’s markets?

The detractors have largely masked their opposition in the cloak of fear…that teenagers, hell bent on getting their buzz on, will have greater access to Mad Dog 30/30.  (Note, if you’ve ever had a cheap wine induced hangover, you know full well that you’ll never repeat the experience) It is a disingenuous and deceptive argument. Besides, is there any wine that compliments Cheese Puffs? Kids are going to drink beer to get drunk and make babies, not Merlot.

If I remember from my research on this issue, there are some questions that need to be addressed:

My understanding of current state law prohibits any entity from possessing more than one wine/liquor license.  Will this law have to be changed to allow Corporate chains to hold multiple licenses?

If that happens, why not also change the law regarding transport of wine, which states that only a licensed distributor can do it.  That way, Walmart and Sam’s club can bulk buy, store it, and transport it to their stores when they need it.  This would also take the heat off of distributors.

Will liquor stores now be able to sell beer?  If this is a convenience issue, having all spirits in one location seems a no-brainer.  What about the liquor stores now selling lottery tickets, chips, soda, and condoms?

I have to laugh at a few comments I have read in the paper about how this is all about “freedom.”  Really?  Open a restaurant, bar, or liquor store for that matter, and try to purchase your stock from anyone other than a protected distributor.  One distributor.  Not exactly the free-est of markets, eh?  Lets allow anyone willing to collect sales taxes to sell any product anywhere.  That, my freedom loving poseur friends, is a free market.

Bah, the trough keeps getting smaller, the few who get to feed at it keep getting larger.



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4 responses to “Whats The Real Beef Over Wine Sales?

  1. southernbeale

    I think there will be more wine sales. It will just be easier to pick up a bottle of wine when you’re at the grocery store versus making another stop. It may not be significant but I think there will be an uptick.

    And really, I don’t care if beer is sold in liquor stores. Why the hell not? For that matter, I’m tired of having to go to a wine store for my wine and another store for the hardware to open the damn thing. That’s just stupid.

    If Republicans were really against stupid rules and regulations and all small government they’d get rid of this antiquated law.

  2. Red White and Food

    Thanks for your post. We’ve appreciated your thoughtful approach.

    We’ll disagree with you that free markets cost jobs.

    The legislation doesn’t do anything about wholesalers. The three-tier system is common even in states with sales in food stores.

    The legislation does strip many of the onerous limitations on liquor stores that are written in the Tennessee Code.

    They can sell beer or anything else they want. They can change their business model however they want. Liquor store owners can form corporations to own as many stores as they can buy. And, they can sell their businesses to anyone (including out-of-state companies) for any price they can negotiate. Right now, they have to sell to someone who has lived in Tennessee for two years. And, they can have wine tastings in their stores.

    The legislation goes farther than ever before at leveling the playing field.

  3. All good info, and thanks.

    I never said free markets cost jobs. Truly free markets would help create them, but I believe that the thousands of jobs touted by proponents of this legislation will never materialize. The distributors stock the shelves, and why would they want to incur those costs?

    Anyway, you guys do a good job, much better than your opponents with respect to using available media.

  4. Red White and Food


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