Should wine be sold in TN grocery stores?

Should wine be sold in TN grocery stores?

(WMC-TV) – There is a new movement to put wine on the shelves in Tennessee grocery stores. This time, the governor says it just may happen.

It is a controversial issue state lawmakers have been battling for some time and now, it is becoming more of a reality.

The top two Republicans in the Tennessee General Assembly support allowing the sale of wine in grocery stores.

"I think it's a convenience because you can go to the store and pick it up while you're shopping," said shopper Megan Murray.

The latest proposal would give counties that currently allow liquor sales to hold a referendum on whether to remove liquor stores' exclusive right to sell wine.

"Sixty percent of my business is wine," said Josh Hammond, who owns Buster's Liquor and Wines. "So they would essentially be handing a good portion of that over to the grocery store and saying you got to sell this as well, so how would I make up for that? How would I be impacted? Obviously, lost revenue and loss of jobs as well."

Liquor store owner Josh Hammond says the proposal would unfairly hurt existing businesses established with the understanding they would have exclusive rights to sell wine.

He fears it could also undermine the state's efforts to combat underage drinking.

"Anytime there is an increase in accessibility to alcohol you're going to deal with other issues in society which is underage drinking and access to alcohol for youth," said Hammond.

Meanwhile, the proposal is highly favored by large supermarket chains and the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association, which are all a part of a statewide campaign called Red, White and Food to promote the change.

Governor Haslam says he believes people in Tennessee would put wine in grocery stores if it was put to a referendum.

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