Knoxville Kroger stores stock up on wine for July 1

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) – In five weeks it will East Tennessee shoppers will be able to pick up wine while grocery shopping. Stores have been filling out applications with Tennessee’s Alcohol Beverage Commission and they’ve also been busy putting up marketing and getting aisles ready for this new merchandise.

Wine is already on shelves at some Kroger stores in great Knoxville. Kroger on Clinton Highway was the first to receive some of their stock and eight other Kroger stores will be stocked with wine this week because lawmakers recently passed the Early Stocking bill. Fine wine is now found in aisle 17.

“So I was like, ‘I’m just going to go check it out and see what it looks like.’ I just feel like it’s been a long time coming,” said shopper Trayla Turner.

The Kroger on Clinton Highway has been training for months on the legal aspects of selling wine for the first time as well as the variety and pairings.

“Yesterday we were able to bring this all in and set up the store. It took about all day to get it done. We’ve had a lot of customers who are thankful and think it’s great. Most of the product is here. Some more orders to come but we’re just waiting on filling in,” said store manager Mary Keeler.

Shoppers are already doing their homework and asking the price per bottle.

“We’re going to go between $10 to $12. There’s an attractive price point there for our consumers, but we have the higher end that will also go for that $100 plus item,” added Keeler.

Customers will still have to wait until wine can go through the register.

“People are ready. Customers are ready. This has been one of the highest requested items for years in our Kroger stores,” said Keeler.

“I was surprised but I think it’s good, gives people a chance to see what they’re going to carry,” added shopper Crystal Graham.

Wine prices will vary store to store, but the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association says the 2014 act which allows wine sales in retail food stores mandates a minimum markup on wine of 20 percent. This is for both food stores and retail package stores.

Gas stations like Pilot and Weigel’s have filed applications in Knoxville and Knox County to sell wine. Billy Weigel, owner and CEO of Weigel’s, says his convenience stores are waiting to get their permits approved which isn’t expected to be complete until June 10. Weigel adds they plan on working to sell wine slowly and they’re doing it to be competitive. Weigel says they are currently looking at how to work wine into their concept of the store.

The Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association says wine will not likely be sold in drugstores like Walgreens or CVS because they won’t meet the minimum requirement of 20 percent food sales.

MAP: Knoxville stores that have applied to sell wine

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