Possible change in TN beer laws?

Discussion in 'South' started by rangerred, Dec 3, 2012.

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  1. rangerred

    rangerred Poo-Bah (1,601) Dec 20, 2006 Tennessee


    With the prospect of wine sales in grocery stores coming up again, would this also allow >6.2% beer to be sold in grocery stores? I know when this same issue came up last year it didn't address the beer split. I would be somewhat hesitant to support a law that didn't address beer as well because if liquor stores lose their exclusive right to sell wine, it could cause many to close and/or raise prices on everything else further limiting our access to good beer.

    What's everyone else's thoughts on this? I don't think there is a movement such as Free The Hops in TN to make the legislature aware of the need to change our beer laws.
  2. erichall

    erichall Initiate (0) Nov 13, 2008 Kentucky

    I am not 100% familiar with the Tennessee laws but the wine in grocery stores issue is popping up in other states too. Almost 100% of the time, it is large grocery store chains behind the legislation. They say it is a matter of convenience but they really could care less about quality wine/beer. they just want more items to fill the shelves of their "super centers". Outside of a couple chains (whole foods, trader joes), the chains will bring in aisles of whatever the cheapest, best selling wines along with some mid range wines from the big boy distributors.

    Same with craft beers should they allow greater than 6.2% beers in groceries. They only want the beers that they can get massive amounts of and keep on the shelves year round.

    It will hurt and kill many smaller stores currently obeying the existing laws. Wine has the highest profit margins for most stores. Good wine/beer stores have a knowledgeable staff that knows about the products they sell. The grocery stores will treat wine/higher proof beers like every other item, mark it up 10-15% and throw it on the shelves. No one working the aisles (if you can find them) will have a clue about Oregon Pinot Noirs nor will they know the difference between an English Style IPA and an American style IPA. The dummying down of the beer and wine markets continue.

    Wine is just the first step. Eventually they will want liquor.
  3. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Crusader (736) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    The dummying down of the beer and wine markets continue.

    You are dead wrong. The dummying down of the entire country continues.
    analbumcover likes this.
  4. freduardo

    freduardo Initiate (0) Feb 19, 2007 Alabama

    our grocery stores in birmingham can and do carry an excellent selection of beer (especially the piggly wigglys and westerns). it is really nice to be able to pick some beer up when doing the regular shopping. you're right that you can't always talk to a knowledgeable person on staff about beer (although some of these stores do employ very good beer/wine people), but i don't always need or want to do that. we also have independent, locally owned beer and wine shops in town that have great selections with knowledgeable staffs. if these places can coexist in birmingham, i don't see why the same wouldn't be true in tn.
  5. GMan

    GMan Aspirant (294) Apr 16, 2012 Tennessee

    Honestly, I don't really care about the lack of a knowledgeable salesperson at Krogers, but I would really like to be able to buy higher abv beers at my favorite beer stores in Knoxville(Bearden Beer Market, Casual Pint). Sure, sometimes I am in a grocery store and pick up a six pack, but I support the people who are expanding the market locally at every opportunity.
  6. rangerred

    rangerred Poo-Bah (1,601) Dec 20, 2006 Tennessee

    The biggest issue I have with the split is lack of distribution to TN by many breweries widely available elsewhere(Founders, Bells, DFH, Great Lakes, Green Flash, Smuttynose, etc.) Our ridiculous wholesale tax probably has something to do with it but on the other hand, it is a hassle for a brewery to set up two seperate accounts for distribution, make seperate shipments depending on the abv of the beer, etc. Even though some distributors in TN distribute both high and low gravity beer, it must be housed in seperate warehouses and delivered on seperate trucks. I don't even have access to in my area to high grav beers from New Belgium and Sam Adams. Just started getting SN Torpedo a few months ago.

    My only hope is if this wine bill passes, beer law reform will be next. It just doesn't seem like right now there is any real push happening.
  7. erichall

    erichall Initiate (0) Nov 13, 2008 Kentucky

    After reading the article, there are some dirty politics at work. Kroger looks to be behind the "wine with food" bill, just as they were in kentucky. One politician tries to rationalize it as a "jobs" bill. I would not call each grocery store adding a part time stock position at 7.25 per hour a real positive.

    It looks as though this bill would be to allow public referendums in each locale to waive the exclusitivity that liquor stores have. I am ok with most forms of laws that allow public referendums but this might be the one that is the exception.
  8. ColonelCash

    ColonelCash Initiate (0) Jul 6, 2011 Tennessee

    I'd be happy if they just allowed liquor stores to be open on Sunday. Don't care about getting wine in stores myself and I'm worred what food will be cut from the shelves if this happens. It's not these grocery stores have 2 aisles of empty space on the floor.
  9. erichall

    erichall Initiate (0) Nov 13, 2008 Kentucky

    I cant argue with that. But as a store owner in kentucky where Sunday sales are allowed after 1pm, it is tough to make any money on sundays (with the exception of holiday weekends). We are open on sundays but I can see why those in the business are not pushing too hard for sunday sales.
  10. Ariz

    Ariz Initiate (0) May 2, 2009 Alabama

    The stores that do a good job providing good customer service will survive. The one's primarily relying legally contrived market conditions will fail. I live in AL there are plenty of wine shops that have been doing well for years despite grocery stores being allowed to sell wine. When they first raised the ABV for beer it was restricted to liquor stores. Later it was expanded to grocery stores, etc. The selection of beer for the consumer has only expanded.
  11. erichall

    erichall Initiate (0) Nov 13, 2008 Kentucky

    I guess my goals in owning a small business and yours differ. I have not invested money, time and resources to simply survive. I do it to make a living. When you plan a business, looking at the legal landscape is a huge portion of it. I invite competition of those who play by the same rules I have to play by.

    It is when a giant company tries to change the rules through legislation that I take issue. I agree that many of the liquor laws, particularly in the south are outdated and need to be updated. But it should be done carefully and with all sides represented. It is easy for the organization behind the legislation to claim "it is good for the consumer." It is the job of the officials we elect to decide the causes and consequences.
  12. Imperialhopper83

    Imperialhopper83 Initiate (0) Jul 15, 2009 Tennessee

    This does not effect beer laws as far as the legislation I read back a year or two ago. This is simply a permit that is "Grocery Specific" that states "Wine" and nothing else. Not to say that it wouldn't open doors.
  13. Tilley4

    Tilley4 Poo-Bah (1,741) Nov 13, 2007 Tennessee
    Beer Trader Subscriber

    The danger in that is that a lot of liquor stores make really good money off of wine sales... I fear that many of the better beer stores (at least in my area) would suffer greatly and in some way it would hurt those of us who go to liquor stores for the high ABV offerings...
  14. rangerred

    rangerred Poo-Bah (1,601) Dec 20, 2006 Tennessee

    This is my biggest concern as well. Wine is usually the biggest money maker for a liquor store and many stores would suffer if this law were to take effect. A compromise that was floated last year was to allow liquor stores to sell other items such as soda, ice, corkscrews, etc. as currently they can only sell alcohol and nothing else.

    It almost seems high gravity beer is like the red-headed stepchild in the retail alcohol world in Tennessee. Few stores (at least around me) are knowledgeable about beer and the extremely limited stock is old. We seem to be making some progress in our alcohol laws but not when it comes to the beer split.
  15. erichall

    erichall Initiate (0) Nov 13, 2008 Kentucky

    The beer change will happen when a Giant companies with lobbying dollars and shill non profit company gets behind the cause. Bud/Miller/Coors do not want the change in Beer abv regs, thus there is very little traction on that end. I can't think of any craft breweries with government relations positions or departments.

    It could still get done thru a true grass roots movement. But finding someone with the time, connections and money to get the ball in motion is the hard part.
    TravisSaps likes this.
  16. rangerred

    rangerred Poo-Bah (1,601) Dec 20, 2006 Tennessee

    Unfortunately you are completely right. TN is notorious for crafting laws to suit companies/organizations with lots of money. See the Sierra Nevada fiasco from a year or two ago to see how the legislature crafts insanely specific laws to only benefit a specific company in a specific city. The big 3 throw a lot of money around in TN as does the state liquor lobbying group.
  17. J2L

    J2L Initiate (0) Oct 14, 2012 Ohio

    The biggest problem IMO is that the liquor stores can't sell low ABV beer. There might be a small hit to liquor stores when people want to buy cheap wine and can do so at grocers, but I used to live in a state (IL) where there are no restrictions on where and what kind of alcohol is sold and the liquor stores there are amazing. I lived in a not densely populated part of IL and the my hometown of 100,000 had TWO liquor stores that were far and away larger and better than ANY I've seen in my time living in Memphis and TN.

    Loosen the reins and everybody wins, IMO
    Josiah2729, GMan and freduardo like this.
  18. DeltaGolfSierra

    DeltaGolfSierra Aspirant (282) Sep 7, 2010 Tennessee

    ^ This is true. All I want is better selection. Reducing legal restrictions nearly always give the consumer more choices. Let the free market operate, and consumers will reap the rewards.
  19. Ariz

    Ariz Initiate (0) May 2, 2009 Alabama

    I was just offering some perspective from the consumer (you know the person that spends money at businesses) side. I'm aware that knowing the legal environment is an important part of running a business. It's also important to understand why it exists and if those reasons are still relevant. If those reasons still don't apply you have to have plans in place if the rules change. Just because the party that wants to change the rules is big doesn't mean those changes are unjustified or unfair. As a general rule, from the consumer's standpoint, removing unnecessary restrictions is a benefit.
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