JOHNSON CITY, T.N. (WJHL)- Soon you may be able to buy liquor and wine on Sundays in Tennessee. After returning to Nashville, some Tennessee lawmakers said they will support a bill that would allow consumers to buy liquor and wine, the same hours as beer.
At Universal Wine and Spirits in Johnson City, Night Supervisor Matt Clevinger said he’s not surprised about a legislative push to allow wine and liquor sales on Sundays in Tennessee.
“I think it would be a great idea because on Sundays most people if they want wine or liquor they don’t buy it or they go across state line to Virginia,” Clevinger said.
Less than two years ago, Tennessee changed the law allowing wine to be sold in grocery stores.
State Senator Jon Lundberg pushed the legislation and was one of the first in the state to purchase a bottle of wine at a Food City in Kingsport.
On Thursday, Sen. Lundberg said he thinks Tennessee is ready for the next step.
“You want the folks on Sunday who forgot about this, we’ve got a big event or a holiday I’d rather have them in our area, not go to Virginia, stay here.”
Food City started pushing for Sunday wine sales last Spring, CEO Steve Smith told News Channel 11 Thursday night that it’s what the consumers want.
However, State Representative Bud Hulsey of Kingsport said he has concerns.
“I did call package stores in my district and they said ‘No we don’t want Sunday sales it will actually hurt us, because we have never sold alcohol on Sundays, now I’m going to have overhead, open a store and compete with a grocery stores,” Hulsey explained.
Sen. Lundberg said many liquor stores had similar concerns when they pushed to allow wine in grocery stores.
“Those liquor stores were the ones that came to us over the past number of years saying ‘If you allow wine in grocery stores we will go out of business,’ Lundberg said. “Today right now there are 40 more liquor stores in Tennessee than there were when we passed the legislation for wine in grocery stores.”
At the Universal Wine and Spirits store, Clevinger said the debate comes down to dollars.
“We need to keep that money in our local economy, because if you think about they can just go across the state line, like where we are right now,” Clevinger said. “It’s just a 20 minute drive to Virginia where we can buy whatever we want.”
The proposal still has to move through the general assembly.
Chattanooga State Representative Gerald McCormik is supporting the measure in the house.
The Tennessean reports a senator has agreed to sponsor the legislation as well.
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