Legislation moving forward to help Tenn. grocery stores stock wine by July 1

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – More legislation to help get wine in grocery stores on July 1 is moving forward. If they apply for a license, grocery stores in Tennessee should be able to start selling wine on July 1, but the way the law is currently written they will not be able to start ordering that wine until that day pushing back the sales potentially several weeks.

Twenty-two grocery stores in Knoxville have applied to sell wine and up to 500 statewide. A bill to allow those stores to pre-order that wine before July 1 passed a House subcommittee on Wednesday. Grocery stores have spent the past several months prepping to fill their shelves with wine.

Previous story: Renewed bill would allow stores to stock wine before July 1

“We’ve been working on it for quite a while. Probably for about the last six months we have started resetting our stores,” said Kroger Grocery Coordinator Richard Huff.

The hiccup in the wording of the legislation that allows them to start selling that wine could delay it.

“The way the bill was written in 2014 it said that stores would be able to obtain their licenses to sell wine on July 1. It just so happens that wine wholesalers can’t sell the wine to grocery stores until they have their licenses,” said Rob Ikard with the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association.

It is something the TGCSA is fighting by backing another bill that would allow grocery stores to preorder the wine to have their shelves stocked by July 1.

“This is housekeeping legislation that is necessary to be able to fulfill the expectation that our customers have that they’ll be able to buy wine on July 1,” Ikard said.

All the Kroger stores in the greater Knoxville area except one in Seymour have applied to sell wine, and many of them are already reset and ready to stock. Other chains including Food City, Ingles and Trader Joe’s have also applied.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to go a little quicker, but if not we’ll be ready to go July 1 absolutely,” said Huff.

All of them are hopeful the new legislation keeps moving forward.

“This has been a conversation going on for a very long time, and our customers absolutely are anticipating wine being in grocery stores on July 1,” said Ikard.

Next week the legislation will go to the House Finance Committee. If it passes there, it will then go to the floor for a vote.

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