Liquor lobby: WIGS should get rid of Tennessee’s ‘draconian Blue Law’ and allow Sunday booze sales

One issue in the great WIGS (wine in grocery stores) debate is whether supermarkets, if the bill passes, will be permitted to sell fruit of the vine on Sundays. As drafted, the bill permits Sunday sales – just as beer sales are permitted now in most areas by supermarkets. At the same time, it leaves in place provisions of current law requiring liquor stores to be closed on Sundays.

The bill is up for vote Tuesday in the House Local Government Committee, where a much-anticipated new amendment will be unveiled – maybe addressing Sunday sales, maybe not. Now, a day before the deal worked out by lobbyists is disclosed, a national liquor lobby weighs in with the following.

News release from the Distilled Spirits Council:
Nashville, TN – As state lawmakers and proponents of wine in grocery stores near a deal on legislation to modernize Tennessee’s alcohol laws, the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS) today urged that any agreement include an end to the state’s restrictive ban on seven day alcohol sales.

According to DISCUS, Tennessee maintains one of the most draconian Blue Law bans on alcohol sales in the country, despite Tennessee’s heritage and distilling industry history – home to 10 operating distilleries across the state. DISCUS encouraged legislators to protect – not punish – these growing businesses as this legislation begins to move.

“Any bill that transfers foot traffic from liquor stores to grocery stores but fails to compensate liquor store owners with an extra day of sales is going to hurt those businesses and hurt Tennessee distillers who depend on those sales,” said DISCUS Vice President Dale Szyndrowski.

“Distillers across the state have invested millions in bringing back Tennessee’s distilling heritage. Changing the rules on distillers without considering their position in the market will cut the legs out from under them and put them at a major competitive disadvantage. As policymakers modernize Tennessee liquor laws, allowing local option seven day sales should certainly be part of any package,” he said.

Szyndrowski said that in addition to increasing consumer convenience and small business flexibility, seven day sales would bring in millions in additional revenue for the state. A recent economic analysis found that an extra day of statewide sales of wine and spirits in Tennessee would generate between $3.3 and $4.6 million in additional tax revenues annually.

Szyndrowski further pointed out that across America, 16 states have allowed seven day alcohol sales since 2002 for a total of 39 states.