MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Wine and liquor store owners have a lot of questions after Tennessee Representative Bo Mitchell proposed a bill to get wine in grocery stores this summer rather than next summer.
Now Memphians are wondering, can they do that? Lawmakers say yes, because voters approved the action of allowing wine in the stores, not the actual roll out date.
You can see the affects of the law in wine and liquor stores already. Liquor stores can now sell specialty items like gift baskets, and bags and alcohol accessories, all of which help with the bottom line.
But Marina Pakis with Kimbrogh’s on Union Avenue says the latest news out of Nashville isn’t good.
She said, “We were told we would have two years to plan for the change, and now they are saying six months.”
Mitchell, a democrat in Davis County, wrote a bill that would allow grocery stores to start carrying wine this year rather than next year. He didn’t return our calls to explain his motivation for changing the law, but local liquor store owners told us they think the big corporations are behind it.
Pakis says local wine distributors would have a lot of logistics to work out in a short amount of time, and local laws would have to change before Memphis could make this change work.
“There are lots of distance requirements about how far you have to be from schools, churches, parks and that type of thing,” Pakis said.
Store owners expect grocery chains will take away 30 percent of their business when the law finally takes affect whether it’s this year or next year. Pakis says her customers promise to stay loyal but she knows convenience is king.
“They will probably feel guilty about it the first few times, then they will stop feeling guilty and we will lose that business,” she said.
No word on when lawmakers in Nashville will take up this bill.