Wine In Supermarkets Redux: The Battle Continues

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They're at it again, those crazy kids fighting in Albany over the long-running debate about whether to allow the state's supermarkets to sell wine.

This scrap, which pits the supermarket lobby versus the equally powerful liquor store lobby has been going on for years. The Voice even wrote about in back in August, 2009.

Well, the supermarket folks lost the battle during the Paterson years, but now with Andrew Cuomo in the governor's seat and another budget crisis brewing, they are trying again.

The latest flurry in this battle by press release is over a study sponsored by the supermarket lobby, which concluded the measure would raise "hundreds of millions of dollars through franchise fees, plus $71.1 million in additional sales tax, and create 6,000 net jobs in wineries and related industries."

The liquor store group represented by an association called the Last Store On Main Street apparently didn't find the study all that persuasive. "Another year, another study from the Big Box stores, yet the only face to come from this work of fiction is that these greedy grocers will spend any amount of money to shutter small businesses across the state," said spokesman Michael McKeon.

McKeon claims the measure would cause "the closure of 1,000 stores, unemploy 4,500 people, stunt the growing New York winery industry and increase underage drinking."

The study was funded by the New Yorkers for Economic Growth and Open Markets, which officials is a coalition of supermarkets, farms, wineries, liquor stores, wholesalers and small businesses. Last Store on Main Street claims a similar roster of interested parties, including close to 100 wineries.


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Alejandro
Alejandro

It's B.S. that the NY public can't buy wine in their regular supermarkets and grocery chains. The liquor stores have been enjoying protectionist measures, a false security blanket that never should have been provided in the first place. If a certain business can't compete, then it shouldn't be in business. There were plenty of car companies and steel and textile mills in this country but they couldn't compete any longer, and they're gone. So be it, that's the way capitalism rolls. This is however not to say that all liquor stores will fail. I don't believe all will. In fact, there are plenty of liquor stores here in California that have survived for decades, and they compete with Safeway, Andronico's, Albertson's, Trader Joe's, Cost Plus, Lucky, not to mention all the specialty winery shops and all the wineries themselves that are out here. Yes, some liquor stores might fail, but not all. And with increased sales for wineries and distributors, and for hiring in-house wine specialists at all these new places, more net jobs will be created than those few lost at some rinky dink liquor store. How many people in NY will pick up wine at their market compared to how often they go to a liquor store? And what kind of dollars will that generate? Duh...Get real and do the numbers.

Family Farm
Family Farm

Yes, the crazy kids are at it again, and the kids of those kids. Our 6th generation farm has been supporting the cause for wine in grocery stores for 30 years now. NY needs to catch up with the other major grape growing states, so we can not only keep our land in farming, but hopefully be able to grow and preserve more farmland. Hooray for the revenues this will raise as well, helping to keep income and property taxes in check. Wine in food stores is about free markets, consumer convenience, supporting a farm product, and so much more. Please tell your legislators today that you support this cause. Cheers!

Overdoo
Overdoo

I am so tired of not being able to buy my favorite NYS wines (except by traveling 150 miles to the Finger Lakes wineries) just because the local liquor stores refuse to do a better job of supporting NYS wineries. I believe that when there are more outlets, such as grocery stores) there will be more supply opportunities for all wines. Perhaps that's how the individual liquor stores can differentiate themselves from the grocery store selections. No one store can carry everything, but with the emphasis on buying local and supporting one's own state (and thereby increasing revenues for the state) I am sure that customers would flock to a liquor/wine store that publicizes the good they are doing in the state.

Suzy
Suzy

People should remember that farmers are small business too. Wine in NY food stores helps grape growers, wineries and all the small businesses that count on them like the NY bottle, label and tank companies. Supporting wine in NY food stores means supporting NY farms.

Scott
Scott

Actually evidence from Ohio shows that the small wineries thrive and grow by having grocery stores as another outlet to sell their wines. The small wineries in Ohio are growing at a faster rate then the small wineries in NY. As evidenced by other states where grocery stores selling wine and liquor stores coexist in the same plaza the liquor stores adapt and grow. Something the liquor stores have never had to do in NY because of the state sponsored monopoly which has protected them for so long.

Doccaso1
Doccaso1

35 states in the USA allow the sale of wine in grocery stores. Is it possible that liquor stores in all these states have gone out of business because someone can pick up a bottle of red to go with their groceries? Show me the figures that say this has happened.

Carol
Carol

All taxpayers, consumers, family-owned grape farms, wineries and small businesses will benefit if wine is sold in food stores in NY. It would increase revenue to government - without raising taxes, increase employment in the grape, wine and allied businesses in NYS, increase tourism, and allow liquor stores to sell food and other products which enterprising liquor store owners say they want to do.

There is not a shred of proof any liquor store will close simply because food stores can also sell wine. Some say they will but that doesn't mean they will. An open market is good for product quality, service, and price (i.e. the consumer; don’t we count?).

Exil3
Exil3

It is not conceivable that the wine sales pie will grow enough to make room for all those new competitors. Even the pro WIGS groups admit that at least 1000 liquor stores will go out of business due to the increased number of wine outlets. The study that predicted those numbers was done before 2006, and do not factor in the much worse economy. I think it’s safe to say that at least 1/2 of current liquor stores would fail due to the increased number of competitors.

My common sense tells me that as the surviving stores scramble to survive while purchasing patterns are realigned by the public we will see catastrophic changes in the price of liquor (the only other good that the liquor stores can sell in volume) and the convenience of finding a stable, well stocked liquor store to buy liquor from.

During this period the surviving liquor stores will be pushed to the edge of financial failure. That will translate into poor service, smaller inventory and less choices due to out of stocks. It may take the survivors a decade to stabilize and get back to the service and inventory levels of today. Liquor store owners, even the ones that do survive, will look forward to many years of struggle before they regain lost profit and stabilize. Why do we wish this fate on them? What have they done to deserve legislative imposed bankruptcy? Why should liquor store owners pay for the sins of our overspending politicians?

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