Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Bill For Sunday Wine Sales Headed to Governor

Posted By on Wed, Apr 11, 2018 at 1:57 PM

  • Photographs by Justin Fox Burks

You can soon buy wine and liquor in stores on Sundays.

Governor Bill Haslam said earlier Wednesday that he would sign a bill allowing Sunday sales after the Tennessee General Assembly passed the measure this week.

Tennessee state Senators passed a bill Wednesday morning that would allow for the Sunday sales of wine in grocery stores in the state and would also allow liquor stores to be open seven days a week.

After Haslam signs the bill, liquor stores would immediately be allowed to open on Sundays. Grocery stores will have to wait until Jan. 1, 2019, to sell wine on Sundays.

The vote in the Senate came shortly after it was brought to the floor Wednesday morning. It passed on a 17-11 vote, a narrow margin. If the bill got one less vote, it would have failed.

Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) sponsored the bill in the upper chamber. According to The Tennessean, Ketron had some help in building his argument.

"In the scripture it talks 20 different times about the bad things of alcohol. But it also — the scriptures speak — 233 times about the good things of alcohol," Ketron said, according to the Tennessean story. "I Googled it."
House members reviewed the bill Monday with a much longer floor debate that included many references to the Bible. Among those referring to scripture was Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden).

”Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy," he said, later questioning the faith of lawmakers who vote in favor of the bill, according to Knoxville’s WBIR.

Here’s a deeper glimpse into Holt’s thinking on the matter:

While many think liquor store owners would rejoice at the news — another day to make money — Ryan Gill, the general manager of Doc's Wine, Spirits & More, said Sunday sales "could be the straw that broke the camel's back" for independent retailers.

Here is a full statement Gill sent to the Memphis Flyer:

"I think a lot of people see this as just another day for liquor stores to be open and for wine to be sold at grocery stores. However, independent retailers are going to hurt from this, and not for the reasons most people would assume.

While we've spent the last two years finding ways to make the customer experience better at Doc's than at a Kroger or Whole Foods, there's still one thing that we can't fight, which is convenience.

Most people make a weekly trip to the grocery store, making it convenient to grab a bottle of wine, even if the prices are higher. However, that convenience factor is lost if your weekly shopping day was Sunday...until now.

Sundays are grocery stores' single biggest sales day, meaning liquor stores will lose more customers to convenience.

And while I understand that there was some public demand for this, I simply wish legislators would've given us more time in between the passage of this and wine going in grocery stores to begin with.

We were a new store when the (wine in grocery stores) bill was enacted, allowing us to come in operating under the new rules. Many independent retailers across the state took such a large hit that they're just now beginning to recover.

If Sunday sales has even half of the negative impact that the (wine in grocery stores bill) did on independent retailers, I fear it will be the straw that broke the camel's back in many cases." 

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