6 Communities Have Enough Wine In Supermarkets Signatures - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

6 Communities Have Enough Wine In Supermarkets Signatures

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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. (FOX13) - Voters in approximately 60 Tennessee communities, have signed petitions to allow supermarket wine sales on the November ballot.

MORE: Big Push To Get Signatures For Wine In Grocery Stores

Currently wine can only be sold in liquor stores, but a recent state law opens the option up to grocery and convenience stores starting in July 2016, as long as citizens vote to approve the change.

"We're absolutely concerned about it obviously, having a liquor store on every street doesn't do us any good," said Philip Forman of Kirby Wines and Liquors.

Forman said in his 17 years in the business, the proposal for wine to be sold in grocery or convenience stores has always been shot down over the years. He says by the amount of people signing the petition, the wine business may soon line the shelves of your local grocery store.

"Absolutely we expect to lose some dollars and some customers, but in the long run hopefully those customers won't stay gone," he said.

Red White and Food, a coalition that lobbied for the change, has been keeping track of the collected signatures and said Thursday that so far 60 municipalities have submitted petitions to their election commissions, which verified them.

"The consumer has asked for this in a lot of different areas," said Joe Bell, Marketing and Public Affairs for Kroger grocery stores. "You had actual retailers who've built on the other side of the state line in Chattanooga, for example, because they could sell wine in their grocery stores."

Bell said it's about lack of supply and a big demand. He said customers have been asking for the convenience of buying groceries and wine in the same place for years.

"It adds to the ease of one stop shopping in our store, so if customers want it, we want to sell it in our grocery stores," Bell said, who added that 34 other states sell wine in grocery stores.

As organizers were collecting signatures across the Volunteer State all the way up until Thursday afternoon's deadline, the Shelby County Election Commission said Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown, Lakeland and Millington have enough signatures to get the referendum on their respective ballot.

It's still unclear if there are enough signatures for Memphis and unincorporated areas of Shelby County.

"Short of a major surprise in Memphis, yes we feel pretty confident that this will go through and we're thrilled to be able to offer our customers what they want in the store come mid-2016," Bell said.

If all of the signatures come in and are verified, the referendum will be on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Many liquor stores say they are already preparing for the change, with an increase in product, high end liquor or beer and additional merchandise.

Wine in Grocery Stores (WIGS)
Signatures Needed to Add to November Ballot

  • Memphis                       13,372
  • Collierville                       1,559
  • Lakeland                           392
  • Germantown                  1,803
  • Arlington                           328
  • Millington                          325
  • Unincorporated Areas     3,556
  • Bartlett                            1,622             

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