Wine in Grocery Stores, another round

The debate over allowing grocery stores and drug store grows and so does my fascination.

The bill introduced by State Senator Tom O’Mara (R-C, Big Flats) was referred to committee on May 11.

Contrary to what some people are saying, this bill does not include provisions to allow convenience stores or gas stations to sell wine. It would be only grocery stores (as already defined in ABC law as any retail establishment where foodstuffs are regularly and customarily sold in a bona fide manner for the consumption off the premises), and drug stores, (also already defined in ABC law as a place registered by the New York state board of pharmacy for the sale of drugs).

Here’s what a sales representative, who has distributed an e-mail asking for people to vote no on allowing wine in grocery stores in O’Mara’s now defunct poll, says are his reasons against the change (the salesperson shall remain anonymous):

The bill is going to put wine in grocery stores and every place beer is sold. The big brands will wind up there and the income that it throws off, keeps the wine shops alive. The wines shops will lose business and many will go out of business. That will hurt me and I will have fewer outlets to sell artisanal wines. Every supermarket in NY is based outside on NY State except for King Kullen. Many are not even American business. Every wine shop is privately owned by someone in the community. The home depot and other national chains hurt the small business. That is what this bill will do.

First off the “anywhere beer is sold” is misinformation. And it leaves out the many reasons current retailers (unless they’re lazy and don’t want increased competition to nudge them away from florescent lights and linoleum, uninformed staff and customer convenience) would want the bill to pass:

As written, it permits license holders to have more than one store; it allows retailers to form cooperative agreements to buy in bulk, to have ATMs, to sell a wider range of items than currently permitted (a list copied from the bill appears below); it gives licensees 60 days of credit, instead of the current 30; expands the hours liquor stores can operate to 8 a.m. to midnight; repeals the section of the current law that prohibits branded advertising inside and outside the store; repeals the section of the current law that requires all retailers to have a list of prices on premises (which no one does now anyway); and allows retailers to get discounts from wholesalers on mixed cases. That’s a biggie for the local wineries.

The New York Office of the American Farmland Trust supports wine in grocery stores saying it could help preserve farmland if 10 percent of the added revenue were dedicated to farm land protection.

Here’s an editorial in the Albany Times Union that supports the bill.

Here’s the website for Last Store on Main Street, which independent liquor store owners set up last year to fight against wine in grocery stores. And here’s the list of New York State wineries they bullied into supporting them by threatening not to carry their wine. It’s pretty much everyone, and it was very ugly. They promote the incredible belief that wine in grocery stores will increase underage drinking. These guys did come up with the great acronym WIGS (for Wine In Grocery Stores for those of you not wanting to take the time to figure it out), which I will be using from now on.

Items liquor stores would be able to sell if bill passes as written: bottled water, mixers, juice  and  soda, cigars, cigar accessories including but not limited to humidors, lighters and cutters,  cigar-related  publications designed to help educate consumers in their knowledge and appreciation  of  cigar products, newspapers or food items including but not limited to locally grown farm products and any food not specifically prepared for immediate on-premises consumption and food products typically consumed with alcoholic beverages, including but not limited to snack foods and gourmet foods, gifts, gift bags and gift baskets, glassware and decanters related to the consumption or storage of wine and/or liquor, wine refrigerators and coolers, winemaking publications and supplies, and racks  designed for the storage of wine.

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