NY Liquor Stores Fight Wider Wine Sales

CHAMPLAIN, N.Y. -- A new coalition was formed in opposition to a state proposal to allow wine sales in stores where beer is sold, according to a report by The Press Republican.

The Last Store on Main Street, a group of thousands of New York small-business owners, believes allowing c-stores and other to sell win could lead to job losses and increased access to alcohol for minors, according to the newspaper.

Matt Nephew of Nephew's Liquor and Wine, a member of the coalition and third-generation liquor-store owner, told the newspaper 75 percent of his sales are wine sales. "You try living off 25 percent of your income. It's a fight for our livelihood."

A 5-year-old study by Global Insight gave the latest look at the impact of such a measure in New York, and stated 1,000 of the 2,700 liquor stores in the state would close, with a loss of about 4,700 jobs, according to The Press Republican.

With the present economic situation, "you have to think those numbers will be higher now," Nephew said.

What's more, the opportunity for minors to buy wine at grocery or convenience stores would increase, said Nephew, citing stores with self-serve checkouts.

He said state law allows liquor stores owners to have only one store and sell only liquor and wine. Grocers are allowed multiple stores and can sell thousands of products.

The proposal in Gov. David Paterson's 2009-2010 executive budget is projected to raise an estimated $105 million next year through franchise and licensing fees, as well as excise and sales taxes. That revenue is estimated at $54 million in 2010-1011 and $3 million for the two years following that, according to The Press Republican.

Coalition members dispute those figures. They also contend the measure could lead to significantly larger job-loss figures, with few, if any, jobs created.

Liquor and Wine Warehouse owner, Steve Carpenter, attended a meeting of coalition members late last week. He told the newspaper the coalition is working to schedule a lobbying day in Albany, and to testify before the New York Senate.

The move is likely to reduce revenue from sales because larger chains will sell wine at a reduced cost, Carpenter added. He questioned why the state wants to increase the availability of alcohol so drastically when it has spent so much money on alcohol-abuse prevention issues.

The New York Farm Bureau and The Business Council of New York State are among those in support of the proposal. In a news release, Business Council President and CEO Kenneth Adams said the measure is good for the economy and for consumers.

"Allowing supermarkets and grocery stores to sell wine will allow new markets for upstate and Long Island wineries and convenience for consumers," he said. "In addition, the proposal will generate new revenue for the cash-strapped state."

He said 35 states allow such sales, which leaves New York out of the mainstream. The proposal would allow wine to be sold in about 19,000 grocery and convenience stores.
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