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Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Cry Foul on Wine in Grocery Stores Bill

NASHVILLE (January 31, 2013) – Tennessee business owners representing nearly 600 local businesses that employ 3,000 citizens called on legislators to oppose a bill that would allow communities to vote via referendum to allow wine sales in grocery and convenience stores. The Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association (TWSRA) said the legislation, announced Thursday, January 31st, by Senator Bill Ketron and Representative Jon Lundberg, is a ploy by out-of-state corporations to circumvent representative government and split the state on an issue of critical importance to the public health and small businesses of Tennessee. 

Wine and spirits retailers say that regardless if wine in food stores is decided on the state or local level, it is a measure that will radically change the state’s system for controlling and selling high-proof alcohol and the welfare of local communities.  A coalition of more than 125 police chiefs and sheriffs in large cities and small towns across Tennessee has also come out in strong opposition to the legislation. 

In announcing the bill, the grocery corporations acknowledged that the wine they wish to sell will have up to 3x the alcohol content of the beer currently on their shelves.  He said the wine these stores will be allowed to sell will not only include higher-end bottles, but also the low-end and box wines that young people regularly use to become quickly intoxicated. 

Currently there are nearly 600 wine and spirits stores in Tennessee that employ more than 3,000 Tennesseans.  By law, these stores must be owned by Tennesseans. “Tennessee wine retailers have owned and operated our shops for years.  We feel a sense of responsibility to the health and well being of our state.  We give back to our local communities in both tax dollars and charitable contributions.  We work with local law enforcement to make sure our towns and cities are safe,” said Christianson.  “The state of Tennessee has put considerable time and resources into promoting our local farms, restaurants and industries.  Local wine retailers and our employees are also central to our state’s economic health.  We call on legislators to see through the tactics of Walmart, Kroger and other out-of-state chains and stand together for the well being of our state.”