Tennessee grocery stores can now get application to sell wine

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Grocery stores in Tennessee are one step closer to stocking and selling wine.

Stores have to get their aisles ready before July 1, as well as send in applications to the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

The application was approved by the state on Tuesday, but so far no grocery stores across Tennessee have filed for their permit. Nevertheless, it means buying wine is just a few months away.

“I’m excited to have the convenience,” said Elizabeth Walton of Knoxville.

Previous story: 270 Tennessee supermarkets expected to sell wine in 2016

Grocery stores are ready too. The three page permit is now available online for stores to fill out. Though at Toddy’s Liquor and Wine, a grocery store is across the street.

“We hope to keep them from selling wine for another 12 months,” said owner John Cook.

Stores have to get their aisles ready before July 1, as well as send in applications to the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
Stores have to get their aisles ready before July 1, as well as send in applications to the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

“The deal is if they deny a grocery store within 500-feet of written permission to sell wine on July 1st, 2016, then those liquor stores have to step selling those other items immediately,” said Rob Ikard, president of Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Stores Association.

Those other items include cigarettes, ice, mixers and more as a way to boost business, which have been available since July 2014. There’s the hope that selling those items is a bargaining tool. Either way, package stores have a number of days to decide.

“A lot of liquor stores have just said ‘We’re willing to compete.’ and they’ve issued written permission already,” said Ikard.

Many say coming to a compromise is part of this push for wine.

“If they come to me and work out something, that would be fine. I would be more than happy to work it out with them,” said Cook.

Another big question is if the 500 retailers expected to apply be ready by July 1.

“We are optimistic that will happen. We’re working very closely with the ABC to streamline the process and to make sure that grocery stores that have submitted applications have dotted all their Is and crossed all their Ts,” added Ikard.

It’s an uncertain playing field for both teams. The only thing to do is wait.

There will be some legislation advancing this session for wine in grocery stores. The point is giving grocery stores the ability to buy wine from wholesalers before the July 1 deadline.

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