Tag Archives: wine

WIGS bill dropped in fight over competition restriction

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A legislative disagreement over protecting liquor stores from competition means Tennesseans looking to buy wine at their local supermarket will likely have to wait a little longer for the shelves to be stocked.

Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, on Tuesday made good on his earlier threats to kill the entire bill if his colleagues stripped a provision that sought to impose a two-store limit for liquor retailers.

Todd said the cap was meant to protect mom-and-pop stores, but opponents argued that the free market should decide winners and losers.

Rep. David Alexander, R-Winchester, noted that in his private retail business he must compete to succeed.

“I have no protections whatsoever in the free market, except how hard I work and how good a job I do,” he said “What’s all this protectionism? I don’t like that. I like that free market.”
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WIGS revision includes ‘anti-competition’ provision

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The operator of a large chain of beer and liquor stores says an effort to cap new retail licenses is an effort to stamp out competition in Tennessee.

The main focus of the bill that advanced out of the House State Government Committee on Tuesday is to let supermarkets stock up ahead of when a law allows them to begin selling wine July 1. But the bill would also create a two-license limit for new liquor stores.

“This anti-free trade, anti-competitive provision targets squarely at Total Wine & More,” wrote Kevin Peters, the CEO of the Bethesda, Maryland-based company that operates 131 stores in 18 states.

Peters said the bill would “deprive Tennessee communities of jobs, benefits and consumer choice”

Tennessee lawmakers lifted the cap on licenses as a concession to liquor stores owners who largely opposed the wine-in-supermarkets bill in 2014.

But Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol and an original sponsor of the supermarket wine bill, said he has “real issues” with reinstating a cap on liquor store licenses.
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WIGS revision bill allows pre-July wine stocking

While wine sales in grocery stores will become legal on July 1, they will not be a reality in many places until after Labor Day without passage of a bill filed by a West Tennessee lawmaker.

As enacted, the 2014 wine-in-grocery-stores law declared the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission could begin granting licenses to supermarkets and grocery stores on July 1, 2016. But that date failed to take into account processing time for the applications and getting wine delivered from wholesalers to the new retailers.

More than 400 new retailers are ready to sell wine in 83 cities, towns and counties that have approved local sales under the law, according to Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, and wholesalers would need about four months to get wine delivered to all of them.

“Most of those stores wouldn’t be stocked until after Labor Day weekend,” Todd, sponsor of HB2586, told the House State Government Subcommittee last week.
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ABC expects wine to be sold in 270 grocery stores next year

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee regulators expect 270 stores across the state to be among the first wave of supermarkets to sell wine under a new state law going into effect in July 2016.

Keith Bell, the director of the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission, told lawmakers on Monday that those first stores include 109 in Middle Tennessee, 105 in Chattanooga and Knoxville regions and 56 in the western part of the state.

Industry projections estimate that 10 times as many grocery stores might choose to sell wine over time.

Bell said neither his agency nor the alcohol industry would be prepared if lawmakers decide to move up the date of supermarket wine sales to this July.

Bell said he would support changing state law to have the ABC regulate beer instead of local governments.

Bill filed to authorize WIGS this year instead of 2016

State Rep. Bo Mitchell, D-Nashville, has filed a bill that would allow the sale of wine in grocery stores to begin in July of this year rather than waiting until July of 2016.

The delayed implementation date was included in a law enacted last year that authorized local referendums on wine sales in supermarkets and some other retail outlets that sell food. In local November voting, the sales were approved in 78 jurisdictions.

From The Tennessean:

“The way the form of the bill ended up, a lot of us weren’t really happy extending it out to 2016,” Mitchell said Monday morning.

“We were told that was the only way it was going to get out of committee. You hated the form that the bill took, but you didn’t want to harm the bill so it wouldn’t pass.”

The Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association pushed to allow wines sales at grocery stores. Its members want to start offering wine to customers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the association will lobby to change the current law, said association President Rob Ikard.

“We are comfortable with that arrangement. Now, obviously our members would like to sell wine as soon as they possibly can, but we honor the compromise,” Ikard said.
…Ikard noted the referendums passed “overwhelmingly” but questioned whether that would be enough to spur a change in the General Assembly. Mitchell thinks lawmakers need to “listen to the voters” and support that change.

Note: The bill is HB11, HERE. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey had predicted such a bill last year (previous post HERE).

A list of the 78 communities approving WIGS

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Seventy-eight Tennessee municipalities have passed a referendum for wine to be sold in supermarkets.

They collected enough signatures to place the referendum on the Tennessee ballot Tuesday. Final voting results show all the communities passed the measure.

Currently, wine can be sold only in liquor stores. Because of a state law passed earlier this year, wine can be sold by grocery and convenience stores starting in July 2016 in the communities where citizens vote for the change.

Supermarkets and convenience stores can sell beer containing up to 6.5 percent alcohol by volume. Anything stronger can be sold only in package stores, which, as of July 1, are able to sell items other than booze, such as beer, mixers, glasses, corkscrews, food and cigarettes.

Here’s a list of the 78 Tennessee communities that passed a referendum for supermarket wine sales in 2016:
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WIGS wins most everywhere

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — For a while, Arthur Oliver has wanted to buy his merlot at the supermarket where he gets his steaks. Now, it looks as if he’ll be able to — in 2016.

Nashville, Oliver’s home, is one of 78 municipalities that collected enough signatures to place a referendum on the Tennessee ballot for supermarket wine sales. Of the 70-plus that had reported returns by Tuesday night, all had passed the measure.

“It will be right there at the store where you can buy all that you need in one place,” Oliver said.

Currently, wine can be sold only in liquor stores. Because of a state law passed earlier this year, wine can be sold by grocery and convenience stores starting in July 2016 in the communities where citizens vote for the change.

“This is the last step for voters in these Tennessee communities who support the issue,” said Susie Alcorn, campaign manager for the Red White and Food campaign, an advocacy group supporting the measure.
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AP’s election day story on WIGS voting

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee voters in several dozen communities will decide on Tuesday if they want to buy wine where they purchase food.

Seventy-eight municipalities collected enough signatures to place a referendum for supermarket wine sales on the ballot, according to the secretary of state’s office.

Currently, wine can only be sold in liquor stores. But a state law that passed this year will allow it to be sold by grocery and convenience stores starting in July 2016 if citizens vote to approve the change.

“This is the last step for voters in these Tennessee communities who support the issue,” said Susie Alcorn, campaign manager for the advocacy group supporting the measure, called the Red White and Food campaign.

Only communities that currently allow package stores or liquor by the drink are eligible to hold votes as long as at least 10 percent of voters in the community signed petitions. For instance, in metro Nashville, organizers had to get 15,000 signatures.

The final determination will be made by a simple majority vote.
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WIGS backers spent $1.6M in October campaigning

Proponents of wine sales in Tennessee grocery stores spent $1.16 million in October to persuade voters in 78 towns and cities to vote yes in Tuesday’s election, reports the Chattanooga TFP.

Organizers of the Red, White and Food campaign reported spending $630,000 on television from Oct. 1 to Oct. 25, according to campaign finance disclosures provided by the group to the Times Free Press on Friday. Another $230,000 went for radio ads, $150,000 was spent on direct mail and $29,000 on phone banking.

Six (Chattanooga area) municipalities will see the wine referendum on their ballots, as will voters in Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville and dozens of other communities.

“Our efforts in this final stage of the campaign are focused solely on educating the municipalities’ supporters about this question at the end of their ballot, which asks voters to answer whether they are for or against these wine sales,” Red, White and Food campaign manager Suzie Alcorn said in a statement.

“This is the last step for voters in these Tennessee communities who support the issue,” Alcorn added. “If they want to buy wine where they shop for food, they must vote for wine on Election Day, Nov. 4.”

The campaign’s third-quarter funding came entirely from retail grocery store chains such as Bi-Lo and Publix. In October, according to the organization’s disclosure, retail giant Wal-Mart kicked in $332,000.

WIGS backers plan advertising campaign

Organizers who want to bring wine to Tennessee grocery aisles plan to make one last push to voters when early voting starts Wednesday, reports The Tennessean.

Campaign officials said they will start an advertising and broader campaign push to remind potential voters of the issue that led to a flurry of petition signatures during the summer but may be crowded away from the center by other issues during the November general election.

While organizers confirmed the campaign, they were hesitant to provide additional details about how it would be organized. (Note: Andy Sher reports Red White and Food has $900,000 cash on hand for the campaign and is spending $72,000 in Chattanooga.)

Melissa Eads, a spokeswoman for the Kroger stores that have supported the “Red, White and Food” campaign for years, said the effort will be a final step for a campaign that has taken years to come to fruition.

“We really want people to remember that it’s not a done deal,” Eads said. “They still have to cast their votes.”

The referendums in 75 Tennessee cities — including Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Spring Hill, Mt. Juliet, Lebanon, Gallatin, Hendersonville and Murfreesboro — will come after a whirlwind few months for supporters of the measure, Eads said. (Note: Full list HERE, as compiled by Red, White and Food.)

Seven years after organizers started pushing for the sale of the alcohol in stores, state lawmakers passed a compromise bill in the spring allowing communities that approved liquor by the drink to also approve the sale of wine in grocery stores by referendum.

By August, supporters had garnered enough signatures in more 75 cities to put the question on the ballot in November. Cities that approve the measure will be on track to see wine on grocery shelves by July 2016.