Tenn. House passes supermarket wine sales bill - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Tenn. House passes supermarket wine sales bill

(WMC-TV) - Wine is one step closer to Tennessee grocery store shelves.

On Thursday, the Tennessee House overwhelmingly voted in favor of letting city and county voters decide whether wine should be sold outside package stores and inside supermarkets. If Governor Bill Haslam signs the bill, you will not be able to vote on it locally until November, but there are some changes that could take place in July.

The vote, which will allow voters to make the final decision, passed the state house by a vote of 71 to 15. If it passes, Tennessee expects it will bring in $2.4 million dollars in revenue.

But this July, wine and liquor stores will be able to start selling items such as soda, cigarettes, and lottery tickets.

Convenience store owners worry a provision in the bill is going to hurt their business. Wine sales in supermarkets has long been opposed for its potentially to put package stores out of business.

"I worry about the small guys, they'll be out of business and we've had too much of that," said Margaret Hubbert, who lives in Memphis.

So, lawmakers came up with a compromise.

Beginning July 1, package stores can begin selling other items, like tobacco products, lottery tickets, and non-alcoholic beverages.

As package stores brace for the competition from supermarkets, convenience stores are bracing for competition from package stores.

Ron Khaled has owned his Whitehaven convenience store for 17 years. He shares customers with the package store right next door.

"It's a bad idea, it's not a good idea," he said of the changes. "We rely on one another."

But soon, their inventory could overlap.

"It's gonna hurt our business when liquor stores start selling tobacco and drinks and other merchandise," he said.

Wine cannot be sold in supermarkets until 2015, and only if voters approve the measure. But the addition of products in package stores is a done deal that goes into effect July 1, giving those stores a two-year head start to increase business before the supermarket competition sets in.

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