» By Phillip Swanson
On Thursday, Jan. 30, the Tennessee Senate voted to approve a bill that would allow grocery and convenience stores to stock shelves with wine.
The subject had been debated for nearly a decade as it was frequently stalled by liquor and package store owners, and now Tennessee counties will be able to decide on a local level if they want to allow wine to be sold in grocery stores.
The movement is still not quite out of legislation yet. The bill must go back through the House of Representatives to be approved and then be sent to Governor Haslam’s desk for final approval.
If the bill continues as planned, Tennesseans will be able to vote on the bill as early as November. This does not mean wine will be available immediately, however. Grocery and convenience stores will still have to wait until 2016 in order to give liquor stores time to adapt to the changing market.
Jonathan Beasley, a full-time, temporary English professor at APSU, said he does not understand why it has taken so long for wine sales to be allowed. “It doesn’t make sense,” Beasley said. “Most states sell wine in grocery stores already. It will be interesting to see how it affects liquor stores.”
The bill has many parts. According to Bradley George of Nashville Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” in order for the store to actually sell wine, it would have to be at least 1,200 square feet, require a 20 percent markup on all wine, prohibit Sunday wine sales, and prohibit selling wine with higher than 6.3 percent alcohol content.
Also, if the grocery store or convenience store is within 500 feet of an existing liquor store, it would have to get permission from the owner before selling wine.
Megan Adams, a junior majoring in psychology, said she believes the bill affects more than just liquor stores. “If you can put wine in other stores, it adds competition and will drive prices down,” Adams said.
“I’m all for it because it also saves on gas,” Adams said. “If I can do all my shopping in one place, I don’t have to go to other places.” TAS