Some East Tennessee communities still fighting for wine in grocery stores

Food City wine petition

SEYMOUR (WATE) – Tennesseans have been able to buy wine in grocery stores since July 1, a change that has been years in the making. Not all grocery stores fell into the law. In fact some communities were totally left out. One of those is Seymour.

Sevier County is a dry county. There are no liquor or wine sales by the drink or in stores outside any city limits, and because of the way the wine in grocery stores law was written that means no wine on those grocery shelves.

“For me it’s a matter of, it’s closer. It’s a lot closer here at the grocery store,” said Cayce Collins.

Food City in Seymour and others are starting from scratch with a petition gaining signatures to get liquor by the drink in Seymour on the upcoming ballot. That would then allow for wine in grocery stores to be considered.

“You have to go to Knoxville or Sevierville for everything, and it seems like Seymour always gets left out in stuff like that,” said Aaron Garner with Food City.

They need 1,500 signatures by August 25, and Monday afternoon they were closing in on 1,400.

Previous story: Wine sells begin at Tennessee grocery stores

“I’ve actually had people come in and tell me that they don’t drink wine or they don’t drink wine often, but they like to see it in the store in case they have family or friends coming over that do drink it,” Garner said.

With wine sales comes mixed reactions, but many in Seymour see it as a positive for convenience and keeping profits at home.

“I know people that like wine and it would be easier for them to get it here while they’re shopping,” said Wally Herbert.

Collins said, “As a matter of convenience and price, it’s nicer at the grocery stores.”

If liquor by the drink in Seymour is put on the November ballot, wine in grocery stores would be allowed on the next ballot. If everything passes it would be at least 2018 before wine is in stores in Seymour.

Food City said there are about a dozen of their stores in East Tennessee that are not allowed to sell wine and several of those also have petitions. Many of them are in Jefferson County, but one is in LaFollette.

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