Wine bill spurs interest of East TN retailers

A much talked about piece of legislation took another step toward being a reality Thursday afternoon in Nashville.

The state Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation that would allow wine to be sold in grocery stores.

The Senate's bill comes with a number of new rules, thanks to an amendment that was passed earlier in the day.

It says in order to sell wine, a store must get at least 20 percent of its taxable sales from food. A store cannot conduct wine tastings on its property. And, a store must have a floor space of at least 1,200 square feet, among other things.

It's that last rule that worries stores like Aisle Nine in the Old City.

The convenience store wants to sell wine, but under the legislation it would be deemed not big enough to do so.

"Why should it favor large grocery stores and large chains, what about a small business?" said Aisle Nine manager Randall Green. "Is there any justification whatsoever that a small business shouldn't sell wine and beer in the same place?"

Green said he is hopeful lawmakers will consider smaller shops in the future too.

According to The Tennessean, the house companion to the Senate bill could be considered for a vote next month.

Two other wine in grocery store bills currently exist in the House as well.

One would prohibit any business with a retail space of less than 2,000 square feet from selling wine.


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