Grocery store wine sales worry local business owners - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Grocery store wine sales worry local business owners

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - A one-stop shop for groceries and wine sounds convenient to shoppers.

"I see no reason why (wine) shouldn't be sold in the grocery stores," said Mercedes Akers.

"I like the little wine shops," said Richard Vanscoy. "I like to go in and talk to someone who is knowledgeable, someone to give me a clue of what to buy, but on the other hand I'd like to go into a grocery store and go home."

Robbie Treadway says allowing wine to be sold in Chattanooga supermarkets and convenience stores will drive him out of business.

Vine and Barrel on Hixson Pike is less than two miles from Bi-Lo and Publix, two big corporate companies he says local liquor stores can't compete with.

"Small businesses cannot compete with corporate America," said Treadway, "and there's not but 42 of us left in Chattanooga."

A senate committee voted Tuesday to advance a bill that would allow cities to hold referendums to decide whether to expand wine sales.

The committee also struck down an amendment that would have allowed liquor stores to sell beer, cigarettes, corkscrews and mixers to help make up for potential losses in wine sales.

Treadway says wine makes up 50 percent of his business.

Without the ability to sell other products, he expects his volume to suffer.

"It's the big guys against the little guy," said Treadway, "and I'm the little guy."

Some shoppers vow to keep visiting local shops.

"I think I'd divide my time," said Vanscoy. "I still like the wine stores and if they cost an extra 50 cents or a dollar that's okay with me."

But Treadway says he can't survive on divided time.

"They don't need our wine for them to survive, but I do need this wine to survive," he said.

A subcommittee vote could come next week. It would be the first of four required hurdles before the bill reaches the house floor.

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