Archive for November, 2008

It’s all about choice

November 25, 2008

At last week’s ABC Sub-Committee Hearing, the liquor retailers who testified repeatedly said they don’t want to any products other than wine and liquor.

That’s fine.

It’s a choice they’re free to make for their businesses.

At the same time, they should not continue to stand in the way of retail food stores, who have proven they can sell beer and pharmaceuticals safely and responsibly, selling wine.

Consumer demands have changed in the 70-plus years since Prohibition was overturned. They — at least the thousands who support Red, White & Food — want the ability to buy wine in retail food stores.

Just so you know, Red, White & Food supporters recommended that liquor stores have the option of selling ice, mixers, glasses, and, yes, corkscrews. That’s a choice that makes sense for consumers as well.

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Hey, liquor stores, get over yourselves

November 19, 2008

The following statement is taken verbatim from the comments to a WATE-TV (Knoxville) story about Monday’s Senate Local Government subcommittee meeting. A Red, White & Food opponent obviously wrote it.

“Grocery stores are not qualified to sell wine — except to cheap alcoholics. Wine stores can offer suggestions on what wine to serve with particular foods and give other advice grocery stores cannot.”

The author presumes that offering advice is a “qualification” for selling wine. The liquor store industry has used this argument again and again.

Get over yourselves, liquor stores. A Beaulieu Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is going to taste the same whether you recommended it or we bought it ourselves at a retail food store.

The liquor store industry is essentially telling consumers they are not smart enough to make their own wine purchases without the advice of some wine sage who works in a liquor store. Hey, if you can insult wine consumers any more, we’ll buy you a nice bottle of Cab…that you recommend.

BTW, you’re arguing against yourself. If advice is so integral to the wine purchase, then liquor store should not have to worry about competition from retail food stores.

Retail food stores have never said they will mimic liquor stores with a vast selection and a self-appointed sommelier waiting to dish profundities about wine.

However, we do know that consumers want more choices of where they can buy wine and they want the choice of buying wine where they buy food. We choose to trust their judgement — not question it.

Read the results of WATE-TV’s unscientific poll about the issue.

Senate subcommittee scheduled for Nov. 17

November 11, 2008

Next Monday, a Senate subcommittee will hear presentations about and discuss wine legislation pending before the next General Assembly, including wine in retail food stores and direct shipping.

The hearing starts at 1 p.m. in Legislative Plaza Room 12. It will be streamed live on the General Assembly website (instructions below).

Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) will chair the subcommittee. He is also the sponsor of legislation to allow wine sales in retail food stores. Senators Mark Norris (R-Collierville) and Lowe Finney (D-Jackson) are the other subcommittee members. Other legislators may attend.

The subcommittee will not vote during the meeting. Its purpose is to explore the issues in depth in advance of the next legislative session.

Red, White & Food will have about an hour to make its case for wine sales in retail food stores. We will focus on the same issues we have from the beginning:

  • Consumer demand for change
  • The Responsible Vendor Act
  • Fiscal impact on the state
  • Positive changes in the wine market

The wholesalers and liquor retailers will roll out three liquor store owners who will decry competition and predict a massive loss of jobs at liquor stores. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Empirical evidence says this is false, but who are they to let facts get in the way of emotion.)

The last hour will focus on direct shipping of wine.

The public is welcome to attend the meeting. However, there will not be a public hearing or opportunity to address the committee at this meeting.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR VIDEO STREAMING ON NOV. 17

  1. Go to the Senate videostreaming schedule
  2. Click the video camera icon next to Alcoholic Beverage Sub-Comm

Money, money, money — Part II

November 4, 2008

Last week, we told you about how much money the Wine & Spirts Wholesalers of Tennessee (WSWT) PAC had given to incumbents legislators in the House of Representative so far this year. It totaled $41,000. The top recipients are influential members of the House State & Local Government committee.

This week, we turn our attention to the Senate. The Senate contributions have totaled $10,000. Three of the nine members of the Senate State & Local Government committee received contributions. The committee would be the first to hear any wine legislation.

Sen. Joe Haynes (D-Nashville), who is on the State & Local Government Committee, received the most of any senator at $4,000.

Below are the Senate recipients of WSWT contributions through three quarters this year. An “x” in the last column indicates membership on the State & Local Government Committee.

RECIPIENT TOTAL State & Local Government
HAYNES, JOE $4,000
x
BERKE, ANDREW $2,000
KURITA, ROSALIND $2,000
WILLIAMS, MICHEAL $2,000
FITZHUGH, CRAIG $1,000
KYLE, JIM $1,000
MARRERO, BEVERLY $1,000
NORRIS, MARK $1,000
x
WOODSON, JAMIE $1,000
ROLLER, STEVE $500
x

We won’t know about contribution in October, November, and December until next year. In 2007, the WSWT PAC made more than $40,000 in additional contributions during the last quarter of the year. We’ve heard on the streets that the wholesalers (and, most likely, the retailer) plan to “go at hard again” in the next session. Guess there’s nothing hard like cold, hard cash.