Wine in Supermarkets Gets Complicated

On March 12, 2013, in News 2013, by Mark Norris

By Blake Farmer, WPLN.org
March 12th, 2013

Tennessee’s liquor laws could become even more complex as a compromise emerges to allow grocery stores to sell wine. The perennial issue has been sent to a special panel to hash out a deal.

Liquor stores see the writing on the wall and are now at the bargaining table.

They want permission to have more than one location and sell more than just wine and liquor. Senator Mark Norris of Memphis has played mediator.

“This is part of the Pandora’s box that we open, and we’re peering under the lid very carefully as we proceed here.”

There’s now agreement to let liquor stores have more time to prepare for the increased competition, pushing the earliest a grocery store could sell wine to 2016.

Supermarket representatives say they’re happy to wait, but liquor store owners still feel the state is upending their business.

Lee Nettles owns Parkway Wine and Spirits in Smyrna.

“I would hate to give up 45 percent of my business to sell ice or cheese, when they could buy it at the grocery store right next door.”

The special Senate subcommittee is expected to find workable middle ground on wine in supermarkets over the next week.

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Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro will chair the subcommittee, which will also include Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, Sen. Doug Overbey of Maryville and Sen. Doug Henry of Nashville. They are scheduled to meet Thursday.

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