Renewed push for wine in TN grocery stores - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Renewed push for wine in TN grocery stores

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A "Where's The Wine?" sign posted in a Kroger grocery store in Nashville (AP Photo) A "Where's The Wine?" sign posted in a Kroger grocery store in Nashville (AP Photo)
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Signs have been up in supermarkets around Tennessee proclaiming "Where's The Wine?"

The "Red, White and Food" Campaign is asking Tennesseans to tell their legislators they want wine on their grocery store shelves.

"Customers let us know they would love to be able to buy wine in the grocery store," said Randy Stepherson, President of Superlo Foods.

Two Republican lawmakers are sponsoring a measure that would allow for local referendums on whether or not to allow wine on grocery store shelves.
The Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association is supporting the effort.

"We think that a bottle of wine goes with a meal and that customers should be able to purchase that bottle of wine when they're not purchasing their meal," Stepherson said.

Grocers have been pushing for wine sales for the past seven years. In the past the proposals haven't even gotten out of committee in Nashville.

Scot Smith, the owner of The Wine Market in Memphis, said changing things would hit locally-owned businesses hard.
"Some of us will probably end up closing," Smith said. "Over time it definitely means that stores like mine will have to lay off employees."

Tennessee liquor store owners argue wine sales need to be regulated, and they say changing state law would favor out of state corporations over locally owned small businesses.

"We're going to be immediately faced with competing against chains that operate dozens and dozens and sometimes hundreds of locations across the state," Smith added. "It would put us on a un-level playing field with them."

But grocers are pushing hard for a change in state law as they believe in the next 12 months they will have a shot.

"I feel like the leadership of the House and Senate is beginning to bend towards this and is getting behind it," Stepherson said.

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