Tennessee State Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murphreesboro) is hoping that this year will finally be the year that Tennessee can pass legislation that will allow for the sale of wine in grocery stores, according to yesterday’s Memphis Commercial Appeal. Tennessee is one of only 24 States that do not allow the sale of wine in grocery stores. Of course we’ll get the typical responses from the “liquor is evil” crowd, funded as they are by their secret friends in the Liquor Store Lobby, whose goal is not to prevent underage drinking or drinking and driving, or to address any evils associated with alcohol consumption, but to prevent competition that would force them to lower the outlandish prices many of them charge for a bottle of wine.
Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle (D-Memphis) and House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley) say that the Democratic Caucus is pretty much against it, with Kyle saying that it will “drive mom and pop liquor stores out of business.” We understand that Kyle has to repeat the tired lines of the Liquor Store Lobby that has bought and paid for the Democratic Caucus in the Tennessee Legislature for decades, but Jim Kyle is an intelligent man, so he and Fitzhugh, who God also gifted with something resembling a brain, both know that their argument amounts to a heaping pile of cow dung. Liberating the sale of wine in Tennessee will not drive “mom and pop” liquor stores out of business anymore than auto malls have driven small used car salesmen out of business. What it will do is to introduce competition into the sale of wine that is to be found in much of the rest of the Union. In America, that’s called capitalism. It will mean that if the package stores nearest me in Morristown want to keep their wine customers from going to Food City or Ingles instead, they’ll have to lower prices on wine and carry a greater variety of products. They’ll need to adapt-that’s what successful businesses do to survive in a free market.
Wine in grocery stores in other states hasn’t driven mom and pop liquor stores out of business, and anyone who would make such a patently ridiculous argument is either totally in the pocket of the Liquor Store Lobby or they have never lived in a State that allowed wine in grocery stores. Since this writer has, he knows that the local liquor stores will all remain in business, will continue to sell wine (and lots of it), and will continue to have the competitive advantage of being the only places where consumers can buy “hard liquor” such as whiskey, rum, vodka, schnapps, or tequila-and yes, there is a huge market for those products that their strongest detractors never want to admit exists.
Members of our majority party in Tennessee say that they care about freedom, liberty, and free market economic issues. If ever there were a classic opportunity to showcase those beliefs, it is with this legislation.