I hate taxes and government-imposed fees as much as the next guy. When Governor David Patterson announced that he wants to increase licensing fees for stores that sell wine (to the tune of up to $300 million in new tax receipts over two years), I wasn’t impressed. But one side effect of this did impress me: the hope that such changes would allow wine to be sold in stores other than liquor stores, notably supermarkets.
Unfortunately, not everyone believes that retailers should be allowed to sell whatever they want, even if it means bringing in more money to Albany. State Assemblyman Lou Tobacco (R-Staten Island) had this to say:
The purpose of a liquor store is to sell liquor, they’re not going to make any money selling chocolates and cigars. There are over 1,000 independent liquor stores in New York State. If this happens, it will have a ripple effect to local economies with the loss of business and jobs. This would really be detrimental to the loss of mom-and-pops.
Source: Weak support for Paterson’s plan to allow wine sales in supermarkets (FoodBizDaily)
To this, I have a few comments and observations.
- Shouldn’t the liquor store decide whether it can or can not make any money selling chocolates and cigars, not a bureaucrat?
- Liquor stores sell more than just wine; they also sell liquor, which supermarkets would still not be able to sell.
- Why can’t liquor stores sell beer? It is an alcoholic beverage, just like wine and liquor, yet this is sold only in supermarkets.
- Why can’t liquor stores be open 24 hours per day? Why can’t they sell their goods before 9AM on a Tuesday, or after midnight on a Saturday, or at 11:30AM on a Sunday?
- Supermarkets will likely not stock the selection of wines that liquor stores do. Supermarket shelf space is valuable, and they rely on high volume and low margins, and will not replace the selection and service of liquor stores. (Source: Wikipedia)
To add to the insanity of this, did you know that 35 of the 50 states permit wine sales in supermarkets and liquor stores? Blogger Dr. Vino asked some retailers questions related to this (Wine shops in states with supermarket sales – three views). The responses from those retailers is interesting; the comments to the blog post are enlightening. I recommend reading them if you want a wider perspective than mine.
The final insult to injury: a recent Siena poll showed that 58% of New Yorkers would support the sale of wine in supermarkets and grocery stores, and only 39% would object. To this, Assemblyman Tobacco was reported as not being “impressed by the number” (source: SILive.com). Nice to know that the standing elected official in a representative government disregards the opinions of his electorate.
Unrelated side note: While doing the research for this article, I noticed that two articles, one written by an anonymous staff writer at FoodBizDaily.com and one by staff writer Judy Randall on SILive.com, to be suspiciously similar, and in my opinion borderline plagiarism. Someone seems to be borrowing content from the other. Very sad, if it is true.