Tag Archives: Liquor store

But the Children! And Other Crappy Memes

30 Mar

A Brooklyn Assemblyman writes in to the Buffalo News to explain to us semi-literate rubes why it’d be bad for Wegmans to sell wine. Like a fifth grader’s book report, he begins by establishing his themes: Won’t somebody think of the money?! Won’t somebody think of the children?!

The whole thing is merely an emotional re-working of the liquor store industry‘s own talking points.

When evaluating Gov. David A. Paterson’s proposal to legalize wine sales in 19,000 new outlets, including grocery stores, delis, gas stations and bodegas, I considered two factors: the impact on jobs and our economy, and the impact on our teenagers. The plan fails on both counts.

Some wine store owners say 40 percent of the stores will go out of business. Even if that number is twice as high as reality, that still means more than 2,200 people would be put out of work. That doesn’t make any sense, especially considering that grocery stores will not create a single new job just because they add a new product.

I am telling you that those numbers are the uninvestigated regurgitation of propaganda. The idea that liquor stores that sell wine would suddenly go out of business ignores the simple fact that they’d still retain their exclusive rights to sell hard liquor. There are a lot of very knowledgable wine shops in town that place a premium on education and service – something that wine sales at Tops simply won’t be able to match.

And think about this – Consumers’ Beverage sells beer and soda. Amazingly, beer and soda sales at convenience stores and supermarkets didn’t run them out of business.

No word yet on whether the bill would prevent Nutcracker sales to tweens and teens in local New York bodegas.

I would also fully expect the more upscale supermarkets to hire people to enable them to compete better with a Premier. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Wegmans and Whole Foods employ someone with a basic wine knowledge to help customers select wines to best go with the meals they’re going to prepare with the ingredients in their carts.

Proponents contend it will help upstate by bolstering New York State wineries, but that argument falls short. There are about 100 state wineries opposed to this legislation because it will hurt their industry, not help it. These small businesses make a limited amount of wine each year and could never sell to grocery stores simply because they don’t have enough supply.

Grocery stores look to buy in bulk, and will go for the discount wines so they can sell them quickly. That means cheap, imported wines will get shelf space, while New York wines will be left out. New York wineries count on the small wine retailers to reach customers, and will suffer a double insult as these stores go out of business and they find themselves shut out of grocery stores.

But don’t the big liquor stores buy in bulk? We’ve retarded the whole liquor store industry in New York to prevent the three local Premier outlets from even being part of the same company. All people want to do is grab a cab to go with their steak. The way I figure it, the more places sell wine, the more wine gets sold, the more attention is paid to New York wines, and the more New York wine gets sold.

The idea that expansion of wine sales would contract sales of New York wines is mind-bogglingly stupid.


A few winery owners, who did not wish to be named, said they felt pressured to support the liquor stores.

So, there’s that.

So from a jobs perspective, and economic development perspective, this plan doesn’t measure up. Any plan that reduces jobs and doesn’t deliver real economic growth is simply a non-starter.

Clearly, we also have an obligation to first “do no harm” as it relates to our teenagers. Our young people face enormous challenges today, much more than when I was growing up, and they need our help and support. Because this plan would make wine more accessible to teenagers, it must be rejected.

Wine is not a food and it is not beer. Wine has three to four times more alcohol in it than beer. And we know from a Columbia University study that teenage girls who have tried alcohol would rather drink wine than beer if given a choice. That’s a recipe for trouble.

The best thing to do would be to lower the drinking age back to 18 and eliminate the rebellion aspect of binge drinking. Part of the allure is that between the ages of 18 – 21, when most kids are of college age, they’re not legally allowed to drink. Can you name a single, solitary college student who was dissuaded from drinking beer because the law said you had to be 21? Let’s stop pretending that college kids don’t drink, and let them have it. If a college freshman was able to order a few pitchers with his friends on a weekend, so what? It’s the prohibition that leads to excess.

New York already spends $3.2 billion every year to deal with the impacts of underage drinking, from accidents and violence, to teen pregnancies and diseases. In fact, officials at the State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services say that underage drinking is the No. 1 substance abuse problem in New York State today.

It is a hard truth that teens will have an easy time getting wine if it’s available in every deli, gas station, bodega and corner store, rather than limited to small, owner-operated wine and liquor stores. That is where it belongs and where it should stay.

We need to do more to protect our young people, and create jobs and opportunity for all New Yorkers. That’s why I oppose Paterson’s wine in grocery stores plan.

Premier is “small”? Give me a break. We should protect our young people by lowering the drinking age to 18, and basically do what we did when we let states raise speed limits – legalize behavior that was already happening with the overwhelming majority of the population. Furthermore,

Also, Assemblyman Abbate – Chairman of the Labor Committee – should probably disclose his campaign contributions from Anheiser-Busch, the NYS Beer Wholesalers’ Association, Phillip Morris, all of which harm the economy and drive kids to drink.

The address listed for the anti-wine-sales-in-supermarkets group is that of Mercury Public Affairs.