Local liquor store’s sales down, grocery’s up 1 year since wine hit TN supermarket shelves

KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) – July 1, 2017 marks one year since state law in Tennessee allowed bottles of wine to line the shelves of grocery stores.

A few months ago, Food City CEO Steve Smith led the charge to expand wine sales in supermarkets to Sundays and holidays in the state. Legislation to that effect did not pass this past year, but Smith said he will continue pushing for the change.

However, one state law related to wine did successfully change a year ago. That is getting wine into grocery stores in the first place.

Friday morning, as Vinnie Archer and her husband Jimmy stocked up at Food City, they also picked up a bottle of wine.

“It’s very nice and convenient,” Archer said.

It’s that convenience that’s helping grocery store sales.

“We sell more wine than we do water, more wine than we do cold cereal, so it is a significant category in our super markets,” Steve Smith said.

A new law went into effect July 1 last year, allowing licensed food retailers across the state to stock their shelves with wine.

“It gives people another reason to go to the grocery store and to be able to buy a special cut of meat or that seafood item that they may want to have and enjoy a bottle of wine with it,” Smith said.

But for Thomas Carter, who owns B and B Package Store in Kingsport, he says sales are hurting.

“I know from January to May this year, I’m down probably a little over $100, 000,” Carter said.

Eventually, Carter says, he’ll probably have to start taking out some of the more generic wine brands.

“That’s what they’re selling in the grocery stores,” he said.

Now, Carter said, he’s trying to expand and adapt.

“We have put in coca colas, we have put in all the accessories for bar accessories, cork screws, shot glasses,” he said. “We’ve got to become a little bit like a convenience store.”

As a reminder, buyers cannot purchase wine on the Fourth of July.

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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