The Chattanooga Times Free Press covered the issue of wine sales in Tennessee retail food stores in its Perspective section on Sunday, Jan. 22. Although the full story is unavailable online at this time, here is the story as it appeared in the print version of the paper.
Springer’s summarizes why wine should be allowed in retail food stores:
- Tennesseans want it – A 2011 MTSU study found that 69 percent of Tennesseans support wine sales in retail food stores.
- It’s logical – Wine pairs well with dinner.
- Consumer choice and convenience – Consumers should have the option of choosing where they purchase wine and not have to make an extra trip.
- Monopoly – Liquor wholesalers and store owners want to protect their monopoly because, without competition, they can charge higher prices.
- Revenue and jobs – Wine sales in retail food stores would create more jobs in Tennessee and increase revenue for state and local governments.
- Teen drinking and DUIs – The FBI found that states with wine in grocery stores had a lower average of youth DUIs and liquor violations per 100,000 residents than states that did not allow wine sales in food stores.
- Referendums – The Red White and Food campaign would support allowing voters to decide this issue for their municipalities.
White attempts to undermine these principles with a few ludicrous points:
- States such as Kentucky and New York have not passed legislation allowing wine sales in grocery stores because they “shelve it out of concern for small business and public safety.” Those concerns would be honorable, but are not the reason officials are against wine sales. Legislators vote against this legislation under the guise of public safety, but are actually protecting the liquor lobby. Just because legislation has not been passed allowing wine sales in food stores in more than 25 years does not make it right. If we operated under that assumption, our country might still believe that women should not have the right to vote or African-American students should not attend schools with children of other races.
- Large grocery store chains want to increase their own profits. Large grocery store chains are not the only food stores in support of this – don’t forget about smaller, locally owned stores. Secondly, what is the point of business if not to make a profit? Don’t tell us the wholesalers and liquor store owners aren’t trying to maintain their monopoly to increase their own profits. And don’t tell us grocery stores are the only ones with a wallet in this battle – how long has the liquor lobby financially supported legislators?
- Increased revenue means more people are drinking. A Cornell University economist found that states in which wine makes up a larger part of total alcohol consumption tend to have lower rates of traffic fatalities. Also, research has shown that wine consumption can provide health benefits. Let’s not demonize a beverage that most of the rest of the world considers an integral part of a meal.
- Wholesalers are committed to an effective alcohol distribution system. Like any other business, wholesalers aim to maximize profits. By protecting the status quo, they keep competition at a minimum. As Springer states in his column, “The last thing wholesalers want to do is deal with multiple-store buyers who might challenge their total control of wine distribution and prices.”
- Tennessee wholesalers are locally owned businesses that support our communities. This is most certainly true, but please do discount grocery stores’ community involvement, too. Even national chains hire local employees who send their children to local schools. The stores contribute to local economies by paying taxes. They support local Little League teams, allow Girl and Boy Scouts to fundraise outside of their stores, and sponsor fundraising and community events.
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