A friend of mine recently posted on her facebook page that she wished wine were sold in grocery stores in Memphis. She had no idea the can of worms she opened. She received a gambit of responses from her facebook friends, some strongly agreeing with her, some adamantly disagreeing with her, each for a variety of reasons.
This harmless wall post got me thinking about convenience and how ultimately that’s what led to the creation of fast food. Do we really need everything to be faster, easier and cheaper?
I asked my friend, Michael Hughes, General Manager of Joe’s Liquor Store, to weigh in about the wine in grocery store issue. He not only educated me on the topic but summed it up perfectly as well. Read below and feel free to express your views.
“It’s difficult to separate my viewpoints from that of a consumer/wine lover and that of someone who is in the retail wine biz. So I won’t try to do that.
The way I see it changing legislation to allow wine sales in grocery stores will bring about an incredible convenience to consumers. But along with that comes so many unseen costs that the consumer has no idea about.
The incredibly well-financed group behind the “Red, White & Food” propaganda would have us believe that our current laws are backward, anti-consumer, inconvenient and anti-business. Would anyone call New York backward? They don’t allow grocery store wine sales. This group would have us believe that there will be an overwhelming amount of tax revenue due to the increased sales of wine. How can that be possible when there is only a finite amount of alcohol drinkers in the state? Drinking will not increase so therefore how can tax revenue increase? The way I see it they are being very misleading when it comes to the supposed financial windfall.
Many supporters of this bill say that other states allow grocery store wine sales and they still have thriving independent wine stores. That is true but those states have allowed grocery store wine sales for decades. Enacting this law will cause the closure of many independent shops across the state. That is a simple fact. With an inability to compete with big box pricing a multitude of small business will close. Does it really make sense to cause more job loss in this or any other economy?
I’m sure that big box retailers will only focus on the big sellers and not the unique, expressive wines from small family growers. The reason being that they can’t make money off of those wines because they don’t sell at the rate of the “Top 100.”
The money spent in the big box grocery stores goes to their headquarters. Money spent in the locally-owned independent wine and liquor retail stores stays here. That profit gets put back into the local economy. Locally owned wholesalers here in Tennessee will be either gobbled up by the multi-state wine wholesalers or they’ll be forced out of business.
Being a wine retailer I have had the pleasure of helping my customers explore their own interest in wine. One of the main reasons I’ve been able to do that is because I’ve developed relationships with these locally owned wholesalers. They’ve been more than willing to bring wines into the Memphis market for me to provide to my customers. Those customers appreciate the extra step you take for them and they appreciate having access to new and delicious wines. I don’t anticipate the same working relationships to be developed with large conglomerates. These companies see dollar signs not customers. Wine is simply a product to sell not something they are passionate about and I can’t stand to see that.
Wine to me is something I drink, read about, explore, pair with food, travel to learn about and pretty much obsess over. I’d hate to see it be treated like a box of cereal”.
Check out Michael’s blog at: www.midtownstomp.blogspot.com