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Senate subcommittee looks at wine sales in grocery stores

Senate subcommittee looks at wine sales in grocery stores
Tennessee stands to generate $18 million in tax and licensing revenue if a bill that would allow retail food stores to sell wine becomes law, members of the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association (TGCSA) told a Senate subcommittee last week. Bringing money into the state is only one of the bill’s benefits, proponents of the Red White and Food campaign said at the Alcoholic Beverage Subcommittee meeting. “The number one question new customers ask is ‘Where is the wine?’” TGCSA President Jarron Springer said. “We created Red White and Food to give voice to those customers and all other Tennesseans who want to buy wine where they buy food.” Independent grocers said they want a chance to compete in the marketplace and that adding wine to their shelves would help business. “Our customers would like to be able to buy wine in our stores,” said Randy Stepherson, who owns four Memphis grocery stores. “Anything we can do to increase our sales would help us stay alive.” John Hinman, a beverage law expert from San Francisco, explained how selling wine in retail food stores would help Tennessee’s economy. “When a state has wine in retail food stores, you’ll see a 12 to 15 percent surge in economic activity,” Hinman said. “It encourages people to shop in state, not across the border. Consumers who can’t get wine in retail food stores are underserved. You lose sales and revenue to other states.” Hinman also noted that Tennessee has one of the strictest laws in the nation to prevent teenagers from purchasing alcohol in retail food stores. Last year, the grocery and convenience store industry spearheaded the Responsible Vendor Act, which requires carding for beer sales. The industry would apply the same standards to wine sales. TGCSA launched its Red White and Food campaign in March in hopes of making Tennessee the 34th state to allow wine sales in retail food stores. More than 2,300 Tennesseans from across the state have signed up as members. Other supporters of the Red White and Food campaign include the Tennessee Farm Wineries, Tennessee Retail Association and The Wine Institute. Tennessee residents who want to learn more or get involved with the Red White and Food campaign can visit the Web site at www.redwhiteandfood.com. WCP 11.25.08

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