Wine is one step closer to showing up on grocery store shelves in Tennessee. House representatives approved a bill Thursday for supermarket wine sales, but some Chattanooga shop owners said the law could put them out of business.
"It's going to be putting a lot of folks out of business. A lot of these family-owned businesses that have been here for years and years are not going to be able to compete with the buying power of these larger companies," said John Smith, the manager at The Vine Wine & Spirits.
If passed in the state Senate, supermarkets and big-box retailers could start selling as soon as 2016. For consumers, the change may be more convenient with one-stop shopping to pick up dinner and a bottle of wine.
"We are connected to a grocery store. Really, the biggest change is going to be people are going to pick up their bottles of wine in here and check out on the grocery side, as opposed to just being two separate businesses," said Mikenzy Smith, of The Wine Shop.
Some small businesses said the law takes away the ability to cater to the buyer, such as personalized wine recommendations and requests for specialty bottles.
"It's going to be harder for people to get the kind of knowledge base, to get their questions answered when going to a grocery store as opposed to a smaller store like this," said Smith.
Liquor stores stand to gain a little if the bill passes the Senate. Those businesses would be able to sell mixers, corkscrews, gift bags and other items.
"I think there's a place for them, and they will carve out their part of the business," said Douglas Hamm, the owner of Island Liquor who also acts as the wine buyer. "I'm not afraid of the competition. They're not going to put us out of business either."
Governor Bill Haslam will sign off on the bill if it is approved in the Senate. Then it is ultimately up to voters to decide what they want with a referendum on the November ballot.By Briona Arradondo