Ahead of Wine in Grocery Stores Is Food in Wine Stores — Starting Tomorrow
Posted by Lesley Lassiter on Mon, Jun 30, 2014 at 6:28 AM
If the signs outside liquor and wine stores are any indication, I’d say the proprietors are pretty excited about changes in the Tennessee law that regulates what they can sell — changes that begin tomorrow. As state Sen. Bill Ketron says “They’ve never sold a Coca-Cola, they’ve never sold a mixer or cheese or anything else, but it’s a new opportunity for them to knock down that wall and renovate and change their business model.” Though to maintain their license, they must continue to derive at least 65 percent of their revenue from the sale of wine and liquor.
The new statute, popularly known as the wine in grocery stores law, indicates that grocery (and other retail food) stores may start selling wine beginning July 1, 2016 (July 1, 2017, if the retail store is within 500 feet of an existing wine/liquor store). In advance of that change, the law permits wine and liquor stores to sell items previously prohibited starting tomorrow (Tuesday, July 1) in order to give them a better competitive leg to stand on once their monopoly has effectively (legally) ended.
Beginning July 1, 2014, this amendment replaces the present law prohibition against retail package stores selling anything other than wine and liquor with authorization for retail package stores to sell beer and other retail items related to or incidental to the use, consumption, dispensing, or storage of alcoholic beverages, together with merchandise and supplies related to special events or parties.
In short, “retail package stores” (wine and liquor stores) may now sell not only beer, but other items — including food — that could be used for parties or special events. Kegs! Balloons! Karaoke machines! Chocolate fountains! Crudites! Though I expect it will be mostly limited to beer — particularly low-gravity craft beers — and some specialty items such as wine glasses, decanters and other accessories. I hear from a reliable source that West Meade Wine and Liquor Mart plans to sell gift items as well as specialty groceries from Porter Road Butcher, Bang Candy Company, Leland Riggans cakes, and Corner Market Catering, in their "Pairing Place" section.
This is good news for the folks in the Meades, the Hills, and northern Williamson County, who will no longer have to drive deep into the heart of West Nashville to get their specialty foods (or make multiple stops to do so). I imagine other wine and liquor stores will follow suit if they haven't already.
Other changes in the law affect wineries and beer producers and the ability to sell their products directly (e.g., through tasting or taprooms). Yazoo has announced that they'll be open and happily serving their high-gravity beer, Sue.