1,000 signatures reached
To: Senator Liz Krueger, Senator Jeremy Cooney, Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, Senator Simcha Felder, Assembly Member Pamela Hunter, Assembly Member Harry Bronson, Assembly Member Sarah Clark, Senator James Skoufis
Help Save Independent Local Wine Shops in Your Neighborhood!
It has come to our attention that Senate Bill S6786 was recently introduced that would allow wine in grocery stores. The bill, which will be introduced by Assembly Member Pamela Hunter and co-sponsored by Senator Liz Krueger, will allow grocery stores over 5,000 square feet with more than 65% of its revenue from grocery sales to sell wine.
Allowing wine in grocery stores will put thousands of mom & pop liquor stores out of business in New York, in every legislative district in the State.
Here are the 3 major consequences of allowing wine to be sold in grocery chains:
1. The wine selection for New Yorkers would suffer. Our industry has witnessed this in other states that have allowed wine to be sold in grocery stores. In these states, wine is treated the same as eggs, milk, bread and other commodities. We believe wine is a product of place, with cultural and historic significance. We believe wine brings people together and connects us to nature. Corporate grocery chains stock and sell large volume wine that nets them the highest amount of gross profit. Take a look next time you're in a grocery store that can sell wine...it's typically filled with the bland and the boring. We deserve neighborhood stores that taste and stock wines with their customers in mind. Independent stores understand that its good business to stock the shelves with wines that the neighborhood wants, not what some out-of-state corporate wine buyer wants to make a bonus on.
2. Finger Lakes and other local wineries’ sales would be hurt significantly as one of their primary distribution channels gets cut out. Local winegrowers depend on neighborhood wine merchants to promote and sell their wines to their local customer bases. It has been proven that chain grocery stores prefer to sell their own private label wines, NOT the wines produced by local farmers who don't have the means to market, sell and distribute at the unrealistic costs that these corporate entities require. The local wine industry would shrink as the wine business becomes more and more commoditized.
3. Real New York families would be put out of work and small businesses would take a giant step backwards. It wouldn't just be stores and local wineries that are hurt—the small specialty importers and distributors that independent stores buy wine from and promote would be forced to downsize their selection, lay off sales personnel and eventually close. The best independent wine and liquor retailers do not do what they do purely for money. For most of them, it is a passion. They stock their shelves with the obscure, interesting and offbeat. They go above and beyond to educate and inform their customers about this very special agricultural product that we call wine. These champions of the vine would be lost as corporate grocery chains take over the market. In New York, customers get to know their local wine merchants. They rely on them for charitable donations and other community involvement. These small businesses help look after their neighbors, support the arts, sponsor their kids' sports teams, and provide support to their customer's causes.
There is also the question of fairness and equal opportunities.
Because our system in NY was never set up for the grocery store model, existing wine and liquor stores based in NY would be at an extremely unfair disadvantage as they do not have other stores in multiple states that they can leverage in order to get the upper hand with price negotiations. Think about the countless locations that Walmart, Target and Costco have in states outside of NY. These chains have the built in infrastructure to destroy independent shops in a matter of years, simply because they have the economies of scale that existing stores were never allowed to have due to the nature of our liquor law.
Thanks to leaked memos and publicly available information, we know that Amazon has long been lobbying for this change, along with Wegmans Food Markets. We are disappointed to learn that a great local company like Wegmans would support a bill that would add money to their bottom line, at the expense of real families and consumer choice at a time when the economy is already hard enough. We are curious as to the benefit to the consumer—as it stands now, independent wine shops get to play on an equal playing field, have access to the best selection in the country and more often than not offer the best pricing on wine thanks to the access they have to hundreds of talented importers and distributors that exist in our great State.
We strongly oppose this bill and, on behalf of all of the independently-owned liquor stores, distributors and New York wineries across New York State, we urge you to OPPOSE it too. If you do, please consider calling and emailing your NY Senator and Assembly Member so that they understand the consequences of such a bill. See the link below to view the bill.
Why is this important?
If allowed to pass, this proposed bill would put real families out of work, the wine selection for the consumer would suffer and local winegrowers would be forced to downsize.