A movement is underway to liberalize the liquor laws in Tennessee by allowing wine to be sold in convenience and grocery stores.
Supporters say this legislation will make life easier for Tennesseans by allowing people to get alcohol when and where they want it.
But at what cost to Tennessee small business and public safety?
Hurts small businesses. All of Tennessee's 500+ alcohol
retail stores are small businesses owned by Tennessee residents. These
businesses give back to the state in terms of jobs, charitable donations and
taxes ($190 million a year). Wine in Convenience and Grocery Stores would
put the future of these businesses at serious risk.
Means fewer jobs. Tennessee's alcohol retail stores
employ more than 3,000 men and women who hold special permits from the state
authorizing them to distribute alcohol Wine in Convenience and Grocery
Stores would jeopardize the jobs of these people, many who have devoted
their careers to the responsible sale of alcohol. Those jobs would not be
replaced by convenience and grocery stores which already employ staff to
sell their array of goods.
The numbers don't add up. Supporters of Wine in Convenience and Grocery Stores
claim the change will generate millions in
new tax revenue. But for their math to work, Tennesseans would have to drink
twice the wine they do today - an outrageous claim that, even if true, would
mean a massive increase in drinking in the state. More realistic estimates
say the state could see a drop in income, resulting from a loss in tax
revenue and jobs from alcohol retail stores, and an increase in state funds
for hiring new enforcement staff.
Sends profits to out-of-state businesses. Wine in
Convenience and Grocery Stores would take business away from small Tennessee
stores and turn it over to mega corporations like Wal-mart, Kroger and
Publix, all headquartered out of state. This at a time of serious financial
crisis for Tennessee, its businesses and families. Under the current system,
all profits stay in Tennessee.
Motive is money, not public interest. The grocery and
convenience store industry says it's backing wine in convenience and grocery stores to make life easier on Tennesseans. It doesn't mention how much it
stands to profit. At a time when the industry is feeling a financial pinch,
it wants to use alcohol to push sales - at the cost of regulation and
No state has voted to put wine in grocery stores since the 1980s.
Supporters claim that every state is doing it, but in fact no state has
voted to allow wine in grocery stores in 24 years. Since then, Colorado,
Kentucky, Minnesota and Massachusetts have all voted it down out of concern
for public safety and small business.
State must pay to police more stores. The state of Tennessee has long been challenged to effectively monitor sales at its existing alcohol retail stores because of budget constraints. Adding up to 10x the number of outlets will tax the state at a time of severe budget cuts and the worst economic crisis since the depression.
The wine wholesale industry says regulation and control must come first.The very people who would profit from Wine in Convenience and Grocery Stores say it's too risky. The wholesalers understand that their product must be tightly controlled. They also stand by their customers - the small business retailers of Tennessee who have responsibly sold alcohol for generations.
Current liquor laws keep high-proof alcohol controlled. Today, Tennessee law demands that alcohol retail stores focus their attention on just one product - alcohol. They do not sell lettuce, diapers, candy, gas or milk. Retail employees know that every person in the store is there to buy alcohol. And they regularly turn people away if they seem too young or have had too much to drink.
We must protect Tennessee's strong record. In 2007, Tennessee was ranked the state with the 2nd lowest number of binge drinkers and heavy drinkers in the U.S. by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Studies show that increased availability of alcohol leads to more abuse. Adding 10x the number of outlets will pose a serious threat to Tennessee's good record and public safety.