Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Michigan makes six

January 6, 2009

Meagan Frazier and her new husband took this picture while visiting relatives in Michigan. Cheers to them for adding to our collection.

Our goal is to collect a picture from every state that allows wine sales in retail food stores. Here’s the remaining list. Here’s the remaining list.


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

December 23, 2008

We wish all Red White & Food members Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Thanks for all your support since we launched our campaign in March. We have so much for which to be thankful and so much to look forward to next year.

A toast to success,

The Red White & Food Team

Selling wine safely

December 16, 2008

Liquor stores claim they are the only businesses that can sell wine safely because only people who are 21 and over have any reason for being in their stores.

The second half of this statement is true; by law, they can only sell wine and liquor. They have accepted limitations on their business in return for the monopoly status they have over the market.

The first half of the statement is just self-serving. Let’s look at the conditions necessary to sell wine safely:

  1. Experience managing and stocking controlled products
  2. Licensing and education for employees
  3. Procedures for determining proof of age at point of sale

Retail food stores already accomplish #1 and #3. Retail food stores have sold beer and pharmaceuticals (both controlled products) for many years. They also follow the Responsible Vendor Act, which requires proof of age for anyone who reasonably looks younger than 50. Ironically, liquor stores aren’t required by law to check proof of age.

The retail food industry would follow all rules for licensing and education (#2) required by the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission if its stores are allowed to sell wine. Under the Responsible Vendor Act, retail food stores can already volunteer to become “responsible vendors” by requiring clerks to complete the ABC’s server training course.

Liquor stores have a monopoly on the wine market. That doesn’t mean they have a monopoly on safe sales.

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.

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
KYLE, JIM $1,000

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.

Money, money, money

October 30, 2008

The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of Tennessee PAC (WSWT) has a reputation for free and frequent spending. 2008 appears to be no different.

WSWT has contributed nearly $92,000 in the 2008, according to reports filed with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance. The breakdown is:

  • $62,200 to House incumbents
  • $15,5000 to Senate incumbents
  • $5,100 to challengers for House and Senate seats
  • $9,000 to other PACs

This week, we’ll focus on the House.

WSWT gave to 61 of the 99 House members. This includes 16 of the 20 members of the influential State & Local Government Committee, which would be the first to hear any legislation involving wine in retail food stores.

Below are the top 10 recipients of WSWT contributions through three quarters this year. An “x” in the last column indicates membership on the State & Local Government Committee. Rep. Ulysses Jones is the State & Local chair, while Rep. Larry Miller is chair of one of the subcommittees.

RECIPIENT TOTAL State & Local Government
x (Subcommittee Chair)

Next week, we’ll take a look at Senate contributions.

Safety Dance

October 21, 2008

We’ve been focused on the issue of competition for the last month or so. Maybe we should spend a little time with our opponent’s other primary argument: the safety of teenagers.

On our favorite website, our opponents claim that our bill would “put wine on the shelves of grocery and big box stores across the state – and right in the line of sight of any teenager entering their doors.” In an open letter, the Dover (TN) police chief talked about her fears as a mother of teenage children if retail food stores are allowed to sell wine. (BTW, Dover doesn’t allow package sales, so it won’t be affected by our legislation anyway.)

That is hyperbole. Here are the facts.

The following statistics come from the Uniform Crime Report (UCR), the FBI’s official summary of crime nationwide.

Let’s look at alcohol offenses by people under age 18. The UCR (Table 69) captures three categories of offenses: DUI, liquor laws (e.g. possession, attempt to purchase), and drunkenness.

Are the number of these offenses higher in the 33 states that allow wine sales in retail food stores?

The table below show the average offenses (per 100,000 residents) by people under age 18 for 2005 to 2007. We have further divided the data by whether states allow the sale of wine in retail food stores.

Wine in retail food stores? 2005
2006 2007
Yes 66.2 75.7 78.6
No 85.9 88.9 84.1

Turns out the answer to our question is no. The average number of offenses is actually higher in states that prohibit wine in retail food stores.

And, it just so happens that 12 of the 15 states with the lowest average offenses allow the sale of wine in retail food stores.

Those are numbers our opponents can’t dance around.

The Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association is serious about helping to prevent teen alcohol consumption. That is why in 2007 we pushed for an important deterrent to underage drinking: the Responsible Vendor Act and mandatory carding. No other state in the nation has laws as strict as Tennessee when it comes to proof of age for alcohol sales.

The General Assembly changed the law this year to mandate carding for anyone who reasonably looks younger than 50 years old. It’s still one of the best laws on the books to discourage teenagers from trying to buy alcohol.

Positive economic impact

October 14, 2008

Last year, a Whole Foods representative testified before the New York legislature about the positive economic impact of allowing wine sales in food and drug stores. The testimony was quite interesting, especially the millions in new state and local revenues.

Tennessee ain’t New York. We get that and would not expect the same impact.

At the same time, allowing wine sales in retail food stores in Tennessee will create new licensing fees that don’t exist today, additional tax revenue, and even jobs (more on this in a future post).

In case you really want to know

October 8, 2008

Since Prohibition ended, most states, including Tennessee, have followed the three-tier system where producers sell to wholesalers (a.k.a. distributors), wholesalers sell to retailers, and retailers sell to consumers of legal drinking age. Retailers and consumers are not allowed to buy directly from producers — with some exceptions for direct shipment of wine in certain states.

The wine and liquor industry obviously believes the system works and creates a safe and orderly marketplace.

Author Douglas Glen Whitman offers a different view in his book Strange Brew: Alcohol and Government Monopoly. Whitman claims the three-tier system reduces competition, centers too much power in the hands of wholesalers, and leads to higher prices for consumers.

Next step: Study Committee scheduled for Nov. 17

October 1, 2008

Legislation allowing wine sales in retail food store is taking another important step.

Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) has scheduled a legislative subcommittee meeting to discuss wine in retail food stores, direct wine shipment, and other related topics. The meeting will take place Nov. 17 from 1-4 p.m. in Legislative Plaza Room 12.

Sen. Ketron sponsored the legislation in the last General Assembly session.

Obviously, we would love as many Red White & Food members as possible to attend the study meeting. At the same time, we don’t expect the committee to vote on any legislation. The meeting is an opportunity for legislators to hear from both sides and discuss the issues in depth.

The Tennessee General Assembly broadcasts all meetings online. We’ll post the link for the video streaming as soon as it’s available.