. Vite Vinifera De Vino's Blog: Wine in grocery stores?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Wine in grocery stores?

... Well, why not? I actually never understood why there are so many (seemingly) idiotic rules regarding alcohol in this country. After the Prohibition Act was repealed, each state retained the right to regulate for itself most matters pertaining to alcohol. The irony is that today the country that invented the free trade market and promoted the World Trade Organization does not have free trading within its own borders. Here's a great example: if I ship a bottle of wine to Massachusetts I can be incarcerated for a class A felony.

What needs to change in order to have a fair competition between small stores and supermarkets? The first couple of issues I can see are the multiple locations - in NYS you are not allowed to participate in any way under more than one retail license. Does that apply to the new license for the grocery stores, or they will have the same rules they have now to sell beer? In that case, they will be allowed to have multiple licenses and if the current laws do not change, the retail stores certainly will not do it of their own accord. Second - are the retailers allowed to sell products other than alcohol and accessories? Current laws prohibit this, creating another huge disparity between the retail and liquor licenses. And finally, the hours of operation have to be reconsidered; stores are currently allowed to sell alcohol from 9 am to 12 pm Monday thru Saturday, and 12 Pm to 9 Pm on Sundays; grocery stores can sell beer until 3 am every day.

So far there are no answers on how these issues will be handled. Obviously the supermarket lobbies are pushing to leave the things as they are, so they'll have an overwhelming advantage, and of course, retailers associations are raising numerous questions that have thus far gone unanswered.

Personally I'm not scared of those changes. I'm actually in favor of free trading, where it's really free, and no one is ostracized because of economic reasons. I would like to have clearer (and fewer) rules, so that we all play under the same commandments. I doubt that will happen any time soon, considering the revenues that are connected to this trade. Some states act like private businesses, operating in total absence of competition, resulting in higher prices and lack of choices for the final consumer, and big revenues in the order of billions of dollars every year for the state. So now I'm curious to see what new changes will occur, knowing that there is a reason why stores like mine exist - I hope the powers that be will keep that in mind when it's time to decide what game to play.
Buona Bevuta a Tutti!!!

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