Liquor stores refuse negotiations on wine in grocery stores bill

Some liquor stores refuse negotiations on wine in grocery stores bill

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"Selling potato chips isn't going to make up for our loss in wine profits so I'd rather fight it to the end than accept that argument," Sterchi Morton, Jr. said. "Selling potato chips isn't going to make up for our loss in wine profits so I'd rather fight it to the end than accept that argument," Sterchi Morton, Jr. said.

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Several Knoxville liquor store owners said they aren't interested in negotiating with proponents of a bill that allows voters to decide whether grocery stores will sell wine through a referendum because they feel the compromises aren't fair to small businesses.

The Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association said it's willing to compromise with opponents to, "level the playing field."

The group said it is in favor of retail package store owners having multiple locations and would agree on changing the hours of sale in retail food stores so that they match those for beer sales.

The retail food stores are also in favor of allowing package stores to expand their inventory to include nonalcoholic items such as cigarettes and snacks.

"It's hard to negotiate or compromise when you're on such an unlevel playing fields," University Liquors & Fine Wines worker Sterchi Morton Jr. said.

Morton's family has owned University Liquors & Fine Wines on Cumberland Avenue for 20 years and said the store wasn't built to fit things like beer and snacks.

"That might sound like a nice compromise to people who aren't informed enough, but in the long run that's not going to be enough to let the business stay in business," Morton said.

Morton said the compromises offered by the bill's supporters don't compensate for the loss of wine sales, which account for more than half of the store's profits.

"Selling potato chips isn't going to make up for our loss in wine profits so I'd rather fight it to the end than accept that argument," Morton said.

Other local liquor stores including Ashe's Wine & Spirits and Farragut Wine & Spirits told 6 News they agree with Morton and feel the bill is unfairly written to favor chain grocery stores.

The bill will face two key votes Tuesday in the state legislature as the Senate Finance Ways & Means committee and the House Local Government Committee debate the issue.

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