Tuesday, June 02, 2009

From Wine Cellar to Wine Sellers

In this morning's NY Post, Assemblyman Joe Morelle lays out the case for allowing wine to be sold in grocery stores-while at the same time addressing some of the concerns raised by liquor stores over the new competition: "I believe a compromise is possible that preserves the health of liquor stores while permitting wine sales in supermarkets, and so last week I submitted legislation with 27 Assembly co-sponsors that I hope will renew this discussion and move us toward a mutually acceptable solution,"

And what does this new bill do? It gets liquor stores out from outdated rules that cripple their ability to be entrepreneurs: "In addition to putting wine in grocery venues, my bill would:

* Allow liquor-store entrepreneurs to own and operate multiple outlets, and provide limits for the total number of liquor-sale outlets in the state.

* Pave the way for smaller liquor stores to enter into cooperative-buying agreements, in order to achieve purchasing power commensurate with larger liquor and grocery stores.

* Free liquor stores to explore other economic opportunities through the sale of additional products related to alcohol consumption.

* Permit liquor stores to lengthen their business day.

* Grant liquor stores the ability to sell directly to small grocers, bars and restaurants (businesses with less than 1,000 square feet)."

In other words, the Morelle bill would amount to a complete overhaul of the liquor store business model, while, at the same time, putting cash in the depleted state treasury; it would also provide badly needed relief to the New York grape growers and wineries: "This plan would have added revenues to the state's coffers and created as many as 2,000 new jobs at a time of fiscal crisis and widespread layoffs. And New York's grape and wine producers, who are among the finest in the world but who have access to far too few sales outlets, would have received a significant boost."

The state has already lost over $100 million when Judge Griesa canned the bottle law expansion. With June tax revenue figures expected to be dismal, the wine fees would be welcome relief. All of which adds up to a piece of legislation that would be a winner for all impacted parties.