Opponents fight to stop wine in grocery stores bill

Opponents fight to stop wine in grocery stores bill

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"We've made an investment in ourselves and we made an investment in our stores," said David Purvis, the owner of Farragut Wine and Spirits. "We've made an investment in ourselves and we made an investment in our stores," said David Purvis, the owner of Farragut Wine and Spirits.

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Tennessee lawmakers are considering passing the wine in grocery stores bill for the seventh year in a row and the opposition said it has no plans to back down.

David Purvis is the owner of Farragut Wine and Spirits and is a member of the Tennessee Wine & Spirits Retailers Association – a main group against the bill. He said the fight is about public safety and protecting the livelihood of small businesses.

"We've made an investment in ourselves and we made an investment in our stores," Purvis said.

According to the state campaign finance database, the organization raised more than $70,000 in 2012.

But members like Purvis said the money isn't enough to compete with chain grocery stores lobbying in support of the bill if lawmakers put the decision in the hands of voters.

"We've got some resources to help us fight on a state level, but when you start talking about referendums all over the state, we'd have to go to each community to put up money and fight battles at each community level," Purvis said. "It's expensive."

But the TWSRA has had help getting its message out.

The Public Relations Firm Seigenthaler has represented the group since 2007, according to spokesperson Phillip McGowan.

It's the same firm that helped organize last month's law enforcement news conference where police chiefs and sheriffs from across the state spoke out against the bill.

Despite law enforcement opposition, statewide polls still show public support in favor of the proposal at more than 60 percent.

Opponents blame the support on the lack of public knowledge of the effects on small businesses and the state.

"If all you do is ask the simple question, ‘Would you favor wine in grocery stores?' without explaining the ramifications for that, I'm surprised the percentage isn't higher," TWSRA Vice President of Legislative Affairs Chip Christianson said.

The Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association raised almost $21,000 in 2012 and $10,000 came from Publix.

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