Monday, March 16, 2009

Liquor Battle Rewined

The Politicker has focused on the liquor store-supermarket wars over wine, and outlines some of the objections that are being raised: "Marc Ressler, owner of Midnight Liquors in Tonawanda and vice president of the state Liquor Store Association, said the measure would "steal" the wine business from liquor stores, and said after the licensing fees would provide only a relatively small amount of revenue for the state. "What that one-shot deal is going to cost us is, from our estimates, over 1,000 small businesses," he said."

Which leads us to wonder just how liquor stores in the 35 states that allow the sale of wine in grocery stores have managed to survive-and in many cases even grow their businesses. Go travel through Florida and you'll find supermarkets and liquor stores in the same shopping centers; compatibly thriving even though the wine sales are being shared. Makes you wonder about the reliability of the liquor lobby's alarmist "studies."

But in response to the concerns of these stores Senator Espada has introduced a bill to aid the industry: "Meanwhile, State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. has introduced an olive-branch bill that allows liquor store owners to have more than one location and sell snack foods to, as Espada told me, "even the playing field."

Sounds like the seed of a potential compromise, doesn't it? What remains to be seen, however, is the extent to which the liquor lobby is simply obstinate; unwilling to compromise at all, and perfectly happy for the state to fore go the (conservative) $105 million in licensing fees that it would accrue should the measure be enacted. Perhaps cooler heads will prevail; and a solution can be crafted so that all parties can gain. That would make a lot of sense to us.