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MA Says No Wine in Groceries!


Rebel Rose
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Critics of wine in food stores cite fear of more drunken driving

The question is pitting liquor stores, who oppose the change, against convenience and grocery stores, who support it.

She said the question would give local cities and towns the sole authority to grant the new form of liquor licenses -- wine in food stores . . .

Both sides also have been making their case with competing television ads.

First of all, I'd like to say that I do not support drinking and driving. But the logic of refusing to offer wine products with food totally escapes me.

On Saturday morning, I nearly got hit 4 tmes, once at farmer's market by a woman who wasn't looking, and 3 times in Paso Robles as I was dodging 'Pioneer Day' traffic. :rolleyes: Here's my script to support the liquor stores' position.

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Open: A chic woman in a business suit is standing on the street outside a grocery store. She begins walking toward the camera, which is zooming in from across the street.

"As you know, proponents of open liquor licensing are trying to get alcohol products into family markets like . . . aaargh!" (Chic screeches as she tangos past a station wagon running a red light. The woman driver has a Starbucks in one hand, cellphone in the other. She waves the phone in apology while steering away with the Starbucks hand.)

"Like this one. Alcohol would be readily available to anyone who wanted to buy it, any time. This would endanger . . ." HOOOONNNK! (Chic gasps as a truck screeches to a stop within inches of her.

"Hey lady," the driver yells, "what the [bleep] are you doin' in the middle of the [bleep] street?" And he throws a sticky Krispy Kreme at her as he drives away.

(Smoothing goo off her jacket) "Alcohol should be limited to liquor stores, and not placed in family food, uuuggggh!" (As Chic reaches the opposite sidewalk, a wino in a ratty coat barfs on her shoes.)

Looking down at the mess sadly, he says, "Well, loohk at it thish way. No chunks! The likker store didn't have no food." He pats her arm reassuringly, causing her to shudder slightly, as he walks away. Chic looks at the camera, looks at her shoes, forgets her lines. Cut.

_____________________

Mary Baker

Solid Communications

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Minnesota has a similar law. And about every 2-3 years a piece of legislation starts moving through committees that, if ever passed, would allow grocery stores and supermarkets to sell wine. The opposition is usually the same as what was cited in the Massachussetts case -- easier access, easier minor access, harder to enforce, what about Sundays, too many drunks, etc.

Of course, the real reason is some retailers would lose business, which is true and would be a shame. But remember, the consumer always wins in the end. Maybe not today or tomorrow. But eventually.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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As a former resident of MA, I have to say that the fact that this is actually on the ballot is a huge step forward. In the past few years, MA has allowed package stores (what we call liquor stores) to be open on Sundays, allowed some gas station/convenience stores to sell beer and wine, and started to allow some shipping from wineries (depends on whether the winery wants to deal with the paperwork). It used to be that if you wanted a beer on Sunday, you had to go to a bar to buy it. There is some long term political (aka money) support from package store and bar owners against making the purchase of any alcoholic beverages easier for the consumer.

I was up there last week and the only people against this law are the package store owners and the state police. Their argument is that stores that sell groceries won't "card" as diligently as a package store for underage purchases. I would think the opposite would be the case as they already card for cigarettes and have no incentive to sell these "forbidden" goods since most of their sales already come from other items.

I'm hoping consumers support their rights and vote for the new question.

edited for clarity - I was tired when I wrote it and some parts weren't very logical :)

Edited by LindaJ (log)
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It's always amazing the arguments that are used in an issue like this. We heard much the same a few years back when they were debating opening package stores on Sundays. Far as I can tell, Massachusetts hasn't fallen down a rabbit hole of debauchery and drunkenness. At least no more than normal

The substance of the law would not require every town to allow this. It provides for a new category of liquor license that towns may reject or accept on their own, for wine only, no beer or liquor. The number of licenses is determined by the population of each town. I think I recycled my voter info, so I may get this wrong, but here goes. Each town gets 5, pending town approval. For every 5000 additional residents, another license may be issued. So the availiability of wine will be in proportion to the population with a little added convenience and a couple more outlets.

As a side not, the only place I really see the opposing adds are in liquor stores. :hmmm:

Sean

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Leaving all the silly concerns about public drunkenness aside, I wonder if there may be an important commercial reason against allowing big-box supermarkets to siphon off revenue from smaller wine shops.

Specifically, I'm thinking back to a similar debate in New York a few years ago. As I recall, owners of wine boutiques argued that they depended heavily on revenue from cheaper, mass-produced wines (Yellow Tail, etc.) to stay in business. If supermarkets were allowed to sell wine, they would draw away this crucial lower-end business, without necessarily stocking the quirky, artisanal wines that the sole proprietor of a wine shop might also sell. So, once the smaller shops were forced out of business by loss of revenue, it would be more difficult to find the more interesting wines.

Meanwhile, proponents of supermarket sales argued that bad wine stores would be forced out of business, while the better shops would find a niche and survive.

Not being terribly familiar with the economics of the wine retail business, I don't know where to come out. My instinct tells me that the buyer for a supermarket chain is much less likely to fill valuable shelf space with the handcrafted wines that intrigue connoisseurs, and the rise of supermarkets after World War II clearly forced thousands of independent butchers, fishmongers and fruit grocers out of business. On the other hand, it's just as clear that some specialty wine stores (and butchers, etc.) have managed to survive in places that allow supermarket sales. Does anyone know if before-and-after studies have ever been done?

Edited by StevenC (log)
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It seems that liquor laws address three different questions:

1. What you can buy

2. How it is sold

and 3. Where and when you can buy it

I think that the annoyance value of the laws tracks with my list in descending order.

I'd much rather live in a state that tells me I have to go to a specialized shop to buy my booze, so long as those shops are allowed to order and sell anything available on the market. It would be more annoying to me to live in a state where I could buy some wine and beer in the grocery store, but which illegalized sales of beers stronger than 5%, or fortified wines like port and sherry, or other similar restrictions on what I might buy.

On the wine and booze front, my home state of Pennsylvania is really pretty annoying, insofar as their laws tell me I have to go to a state owned store to buy the booze, and the state gets to pick their inventory.

On the beer front, the state is really annoying for mandating all beer sales be by the full case... but that annoyance is mitigated by the fact that no classes of beer are categorically unavailable here.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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On the beer front, the state is really annoying for mandating all beer sales be by the full case... but that annoyance is mitigated by the fact that no classes of beer are categorically unavailable here.

I didn't know that! I wonder what the logic is for that? :blink:

Maybe, highly disposable income persons (DIPS) are less likely to get drunk by buying a case, than a dad who wants to wash his car while consuming a six-pack? I can just see the state motto . . . "Buy more, Be responsible." :rolleyes:

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Mary Baker

Solid Communications

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all beer by the case in pa.? i thought bars and stores could sell sixes and singles. can't remember the name of the strore on 10th (?) and Pine in philly but i've purchased singles there.

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Well, yeah... it is more complicated than "all beer by the case" under the law... but in much of the state, the practice is you can get Bud Lite and other such boring junk as "take out" from bars, but only "Beer Distributors" (who are only licensed to sell by the case) carry anything interesting.

The Foodery in PHL is a rare and notable exception, and I'm not entirely sure what kind of license that they actually have.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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all beer by the case in pa.? i thought bars and stores could sell sixes and singles. can't remember the name of the strore on 10th (?) and Pine in philly but i've purchased singles there.

If I'm not mistaken, beer "distributors" can only sell full-cases while bars and certain other package goods, etc. stores can only sell two six-packs or less. I don't think that there is any way in Pennsylvania to purchase three six-packs in one, fell swoop!

I have never researched the logic.

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Not only do *all* the major grocery stores in New Mexico sell beer, wine and liquor, but the chain *drug stores* like Walgreens do too. (How's that for truth in advertising?) We also have package stores. Some of them have drive-through windows.

Blue laws? The only one here is no alcohol sales before noon on Sunday.

I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

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If I'm not mistaken, beer "distributors" can only sell full-cases while bars and certain other package goods, etc. stores can only sell two six-packs or less. I don't think that there is any way in Pennsylvania to purchase three six-packs in one, fell swoop!

So . . . you can buy 12. Or 24. but not 18.

And if you want to pick up some beer for Monday Night (or Sunday Night) football, you can buy unlimited quantities of swill, but if you want a special 6 pack of Idaho microbrew to serve with your homemade guacamole and Bourdain-style con carne, you MUST buy at least 24 bottles.

Wow.

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Mary Baker

Solid Communications

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Kansas has always had some of the most archaic liquor laws in the nation. Currently, 3.2% beer is available in grocery stores (but cannot be sold on Sundays) and everything else is purchased at a privately-owned liquor store. Whether to open on Sundays is optional on a county-by-county basis, and in the county in which I live, there are no Sunday sales. My husband and I are fortunate to have Air Force base privileges, and if we absolutely have to, we drive to the base on Sundays to choose from the extremely limited stock in the Shopette.

And even with our laws that seek to severly limit liquor consumption, we have no shortage of drunken drivers. Combine that with a DA who doesn't believe in significant penalties until somebody is killed (almost always the innocent other driver or passenger; rarely the impaired driver him/herself), and you have a situation that lends itself to disaster on a fairly regular basis. I don't know what does prevent drunken driving, but it's not stringent liquor laws.

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And all this time I thought only Kansas had messed up liquor laws, although it's no longer a law that planes can't serve drinks while flying over Kansas airspace, and you don't have to have a private club membership to drink in most counties. :laugh:

Right now, anything over 3.2% beer has to be sold in independently-owned liquors stores, and they're only open Monday-Saturday, but some cities have gone "local option" and are allowing Sunday sales, especially along the border with Missouri. And now, if you want to order a wine that's not locally available, you can have it shipped to a liquor store for pick-up, and they just charge you a nominal "conveniene charge" of $5 or so, still cheaper than buying concert tickets from Ticketmonster. And you can buy as many or as few beers as you want to -- even pick up a 6-pack of any mix of micros and import beers you want.

But we live such sheltered lives here in Kansas that it's still shocking to walk into a Target store or drug store across the line in Missouri and see fully-stocked shelves of liquor and wine and beer, and be able to buy it 7 days a week.

edited to add: wow, that's weird -- 2 Kansans posting the same thing at the same time...

Edited by Kent D (log)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“A favorite dish in Kansas is creamed corn on a stick.”

-Jeff Harms, actor, comedian.

>Enjoying every bite, because I don't know any better...

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I keep reading about those restrictions in the "land of the free" and I am both worried and troubled.

.

Andre Suidan

I was taught to finish what I order.

Life taught me to order what I enjoy.

The art of living taught me to take my time and enjoy.

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Ah those whacky liquor laws. Someone 'splain this to me. In Indiana, a

liquor store can sell cold beer but can only sell warm soda pop. Grocery stores can sell cold soda pop but beer is restricted to warm only. I'm sure there is logic there someplace but it escapes me.

"I'm trying to think but nothing happens"
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Well, to jump in, I sadly moved from Massachusetts to PA. I am not a beer drinker but enjoy the odd one during hot summer days or the Christmas specialty brews. But I will not pay $10 for a six pack in a bar and I will not buy an entire case just for a couple of beers. And friggin no one sells my Sam Adams Cranberry girlie-beer brew except in holiday assortment case packs.

Needless to say, my beer drinking has declined a great deal. PA is far more annoying than Mass in this respect.

Someday, when my ship comes in, I'm moving to CA where I can buy what I want, where I want and have it shipped to my door. It's a dream...

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And friggin no one sells my Sam Adams Cranberry girlie-beer brew except in holiday assortment case packs.

Now wait a minute -- Sam Adams Cranberry Lambic is a girlie beer? I kind of like it with Thanksgiving leftovers...that's not wrong, is it?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“A favorite dish in Kansas is creamed corn on a stick.”

-Jeff Harms, actor, comedian.

>Enjoying every bite, because I don't know any better...

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I hate to sound cynical (well, actually, I don't hate it at all), but it's all about who's getting what share of the money pie, not about public safety or decency.

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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Ah those whacky liquor laws.  Someone 'splain this to me.  In Indiana, a

liquor store can sell cold beer but can only sell warm soda pop.  Grocery stores can sell cold soda pop but beer is restricted to warm only.  I'm sure there is logic there someplace but it escapes me.

It was 'splained to me thusly when I lived in the Hoosier state. You don't want little children lured into the liquor store by the promise of cold soda. Or candy---no candy is sold in liquor stores in Indiana.

I moved, when my kids were little, from Kentucky to Indiana. My kids were sorely disappointed on our first trip to the liquor store--the Kentucky store owner always gave them a lollipop when they came in. It's been many years ago, but I seem to remember that they had to wait on the steps in Indiana--no admittance to liquor stores unless you were of age.

sparrowgrass
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