Monday, March 16, 2009

No More Wining Allowed

The more serious-and non indentured-folks take a look at the wine in grocery store issue, the more it becomes apparent that only liquor store partisans see the downside. The latest evaluation comes from yesterday's Newsday strong supportive editorial: "Today, we raise a glass to the free market and endorse a proposal to allow the sale of wine in New York grocery stores. The idea would bring convenience to consumers and ultimately expand the state's winemaking industry."

And while Newsday feels-as we do ourselves-that the modern liquor store must become, well, modern, it doesn't feel that the fear of competition justifies the continuance of a protected monopoly: "But most businesses that are threatened by economic changes don't seek legal immunity from competition. Liquor-store owners want to protect a status quo that no one else enjoys in this increasingly global economy."

The liquor stores are so afraid of the competition that they're resisting the kind of positive change that Newsday believes-and Senator Espada's legislation advances-would be in the industry's best interests: "So, before the state opens the door to grocery stores, it must also modernize its liquor-store statutes. Allow liquor stores to sell beer, mixers, cheese and other complementary products. Let them extend their hours and expand to more than one outlet. Fair is fair...The governor's office invited liquor store owners to add their wish list to the legislation, but so far, they are holding back."

The money's on the table, and all it takes to advance the issue is getting folks on both sides of the question to give a little and craft a compromise that will benefit all of the stakeholders. The days of my way or the highway should be over; and Newsday, which understands this very well, deserves the last word: "Albany lawmakers should grasp this cup to their lips for the benefit of the state's wine industry and consumers - while serving liquor stores generously too."