Battle Lines Are Drawn As New York Once Again Weighs Wine Sales In SupermarketsMay 26, 2011
The New York state legislature is again considering a bill to introduce wine sales in supermarkets. Democratic assemblyman Joseph Morelle and Republican state senator Thomas O’Mara, bi-partisan sponsors of the bill, assert it would boost wine sales in New York state and create thousands of jobs for the wine industry across production, sales and distribution.
Big supermarket chains such as Wegmans are strongly backing the bill—and its purported economic benefits. The legislation is also backed by groups like the Business Council of New York—which represents a wide array of small and large businesses across the state, and the New York Farm Bureau (which backs the state’s winegrowers, among other agribusiness interests). “For years, the opposition has refused to come to the table,” says Paul Speranza, vice chairman of Rochester, New York-based Wegmans. “Citizens of this state are treated equally, or should be treated equally.”
However, independent liquor store owners remain vehemently opposed despite new provisions intended to secure their approval (such as the opportunity to own more than one store and offer additional non-alcohol products). “We don’t believe that it’s the right thing. You can’t have a rule that everyone has been asked to play by for decades and say, sorry, the rules have changed, and all the business models you’ve built, they’re no longer applicable,” says Chris Adams, ceo of New York City’s Sherry-Lehman Wine Store. Adams maintains that introducing wine sales in the grocery channel “takes the most profitable commodity for a liquor store—wine—and gives it to a huge company that has tremendous resources and can treat wine as a loss leader. Meanwhile, nothing changes on spirits—the thing that liquor stores don’t make any money on.”
The bill could be brought to the floor of both the New York assembly and senate shortly, with the legislative session ending in four weeks.Subscribe to Shanken News Daily’s Email Newsletter, delivered to your inbox each morning.