Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Don't believe the hype...

I get so irritated everytime I see a "Vote YES on Question 1" ad.
It's such propaganda.

And what's so interesting is that I'm seeing so many "Vote Yes" ads, and have seen no "Vote No" ads on television. I received one mailer about voting "no".

Why are they working so hard, if it's such an obvious answer to the question? I'll tell you why. Because they're lying. They're not being honest with the public and the people behind this bill think the public are fools.

Question 1 does not "simply allow supermarkets to sell wine". That's a very misleading statement.Question 1 would grant ANY retailer who sells any type of perishable product - which by Massachusetts law requires them to carry a grocer's license - the ability to sell all alcohol that is covered under a retail wine license. This would include White Hens, 7-11s, Christys, you get the picture. This would even include some gas stations that are "Mini-Marts". Do you know that there are some malted liquors that are considered "wine" by retail licenses? This is what they are not saying on their commercial ads.

Don't be fooled. Supermarkets in MA have been able to sell wine and beer for a while now - it was regulated on a "x" amount of licenses per chain. BJs, Costco, Sam's Club - they've all been selling these products for years with little or no impact to most retailers. Will supermarkets have an impact on some stores....sure. Or if a store is located directly next door to a major supermarket - yes, it will be detrimental to them. Most major competitors of liquor retailers are other retailers and this is a competition we've had to deal with for years. For some reason, liquor stores seem to be bundled in areas. It's rare to be the owner of a liquor store and be the "only gig" in town. We are our own worst competition. And as the advent of Amazon and other online "malls" didn't destroy the retail walk in business - this allowing of supermarkets to carry alcohol is no way connected to preventing a monopoly amongst retail stores. That is just one of the most foolish things I've heard.

Here's why you should vote "no" on Question 1. It doesn't matter whether we "catch up" with the rest of the country with regards to our laws on selling alcohol. Truly, does "keeping up with the Jones'" mean anything with regards to our children's lives? We can't prevent our children from underage drinking, or doing drugs. But we don't have to make it so readily accessible to them either. As it is, Massachusetts has been pushing for the driving age to be raised as a result of the high rate of teenage driving deaths we've seen over the past few years. Do we truly need to add alcohol to the mix? Do we want our kids to pull into the gas station that has wine available and have them "fill up" on all levels? Are the teenage kids that work at the supermarkets responsible enough to card their peers? We have enough peer pressure in schools today regarding the use of controlled substances, let alone adding the pressure for distribution of them. And the ABCC is understaffed as it is. They're having a hard enough time monitoring package stores, how are they going to be able to monitor the sales from all of these additional stores.There is a liquor store on virtually every corner in Massachusetts. And most stores are open 7 days a week. Tell me, what is the true advantage to having the White Hen or 7-11 selling wine?

Call me crazy. Call me old fashioned. Call me responsible. Leave the sales of alcohol -- which is still a controlled substance, might I add - to the retailers who have been proven responsible enough to control the sales and distribution of such product.


Tim said...

As someone with lengthy residence in both Washington and Virginia, states where wine and beer sales are permitted in groceries, convenience stores, etc, here are the advantages that I see to question 1:

* Better price on low-end/ commodity wines

* One-stop shopping (dinner plus wine)

* More retail outlets means a larger market for the distributors and might lead to a larger variety of products being available to the end customer

* Better retail hours. In my area, the small independent stores are open only until about 8

I also wonder, with tongue in cheek, why we are worried about kids getting wine. I would think that the wine industry with its rapidly aging demographic would welcome any indication that younger customers were interested in its products, rather than beer and vodka.

Finally, I have to ask what makes Massachusetts teenagers different from teenagers in other states where alcohol is available in grocery stores and other outlets. Are teenagers in MA uniquely susceptible to the pressure to drink? Are the stats on teenage alcohol consumption really tightly linked to restricting the type of outlets that can sell wine? I haven't seen those numbers, but I would suggest that whatever it is that makes us unique as a state has more to do with the byzantine state and local liquor laws (only three stores in a chain? liquor available in one town but not another?) than any behavior differences on the part of our teenagers.

Steve Garfield said...

The Blue Laws are going away.

We can now buy alcohol on Sundays.

The Wine Bill we have now that allows the shipment of wine into Massachusetts is a joke. it has a lot of red tape and small wineries in California are totally frustrated by the new rules and regulations. That bill needs to be overhauled to more easily allow all wineries to be able to ship to Massachusetts.

Wine should be allowed to be sold in supermarkets, gas stations, 7-11's and Home Goods. Kids aren't going to run out and try to buy a bottle of Pinot.

BTW, I shop at Gary's Liquors and will continue to do so for the great selection.

This state is so Puritanical it's sad.

Vote yes on 1.

Bruce said...

Another YES vote here. My reasons:

1. It will create more consumer choice by opening up the market to more competition.
2. It will help chip away at the government's regulatory authority - always a good thing.
3. It's centered around the philosophy (albeit an unpopular one 'round these parts) that, by and large, the state's business owners should be treated like responsible adults, and not as hapless, infantile wards of the State.

My solution is to scrap the liquor licensing regulations altogether. Let all retail outlets compete on equal footing by allowing them to sell any legal products they CHOOSE.


Couple that with substantial penalties for businesses that sell alchohol to underaged buyers, and everyone's happy.

Well, everyone except the state bureacrats who will have another layer of regualtory power removed from their arsenal, that is.

Weep weep.

Then again, what do I care? I just accepted a job in New hampshire and if everything goes smoothly, I will be a FORMER resident of Massachusetts by Christmas.

Bruce said...

Also, you wrote:

"...This would include White Hens, 7-11s, Christys, you get the picture."

Sounds good to me. Which side are you arguing for anyway?

Dave said...

The closest place that I can buy a bottle of wine right now is a convenience store (Tedeschi's), and I haven't noticed any carnage.

Seeing the Packy Industry™ Oh sooo concerned about public safety just has me all verklempt.

Wines & Vines said...

Very interesting! Great to see some response/dialogue to all of this.

The supermarket avenue isn't necessarily the concern in my humble opinion, as I mentioned - they've been selling it already for years. It's the convenient stores. Not only am I shop owner, but I'm a Mom and I think you can tell by the vein of my post, that's my primary angle. Not so much as shop owner.

Tim: Some great points, although I have to say most supermarkets will charge as much or more for the same wines. A bottle of Gallo or Yellowtail can only go for so much money, no matter who's selling it. Supermarkets aren't going to be selling the same kinds of stuff that a specialty store like mine will sell, so that's not really a concern of mine. One stop shopping - sure there's always that for the impulse, but I don't find that to be a threat to the retail package store at all.

It's not wine that we're worried about kids getting into. It's alcohol period. Kids don't care about whether it's good alcohol or bad alcohol - they just want a buzz. Jees, kids are huffing keyboard cleaner - what do they care about what they're drinking? Plus wine (which includes some malted liquor) may eventually lead to a full liquor license.

No, MA kids are no different than any other kids. But I do think we may have a higher demographic of underage kids due to the colleges we have here....something to consider.

Steve: I totally agreed with selling liquor on Sundays. I also didn't oppose the shipping of wine bill, though politically uncorrect of me. This isn't a law that I think serves any true purpose. I don't see the added benefit of overturning it...only the potential damage it can do. But again, I'm a Mom. If I was single (I don't know if you are?) my perspective might be different.

Hey, good for you at shopping at Garys! Thanks for stopping by here anyway - and maybe you'll pop in and check us out. :)

Bruce: Hmmm. I have to say, there's no lack of competition for buying products. And truly, as I mentioned before, certain bottles of certain quality wines can only go for a certain price. There's not much room for flexibility on that. Supermarkets may actually be charging higher amounts depending upon how the distributor charges them...they may not get the same pricing break that retailers get. Just like restaurants have different pricing breaks. That's a muddy area still with all of this.

As far as the government - I don't see their role in all of this? I think it's great to have competition and choice. Tell me, is there a lack of liquor stores to choose from? Why is there such a need for the local convenient store to carry alcohol as well?

Dave: I'm sorry that you seem to think that the retailers like myself don't care about the safety of our clientele. I can't speak for all stores, but we definitely do. This isn't Big Tobacco. We're local business owners who care about the community and who have worked really hard to prove to the state that we're worthy of being in this industry. Do you have any idea what it takes to get a liquor license?

Thanks for all the dialogue and contribution to all this...and let me leave you with this thought. Devil's Advocate, if you will. Let's go on the assumption that this bill helps "choice" and prevents us retailers from "monopolizing" the industry. If all package stores were to close from this and all you had left to choose from were the stores that will be allowed to sell now, how would you feel then? Think about it, before answering off the cuff.....


Dave said...

I'm sorry that you seem to think that the retailers like myself don't care about the safety of our clientele. I can't speak for all stores, but we definitely do. This isn't Big Tobacco. We're local business owners who care about the community and who have worked really hard to prove to the state that we're worthy of being in this industry.

Then it's just a coincidence that all the local business owners who have the "No On Question 1" signs outside their establishments are people who already hold liquor licenses. Riiigght. (The same cartel whose influence prevents MA residents from being able to exercise freedom of choice and deal with companies like this one, for instance.)

Do you have any idea what it takes to get a liquor license?

No, do tell. What was the total figure?

Anonymous said...

So your worried about college age kids drinking? Puhlease! This law will have zero to no affect on them. Those that wish, all have fake ID's already, know where to use them, or know how to get alcohol without one.

This law will make no dent in the alcohol drinking habits of those under 21. This law is what I call a "Jr High" punishment law, punish the majority for the actions of a small minority in a way that will in no way affect the root of the "problem" (of which I don't see one, I'm personally in favor of lowering the drinking age to 14).

Wines & Vines said...

hahaha, Dave...its not a lot of money to get the liquor license at all. It's a lot of scrutiny by the state. Into everything about you.... Finances, Taxes, Background checks. It was more difficult than my security clearance with the US Government! No word of a lie.

Financially, it's not alot of money to get a liquor license, esp. if you're purchasing an already existing business. Of course local owners are going to rally together to support some of the stores that will be impacted negatively by the passing of this bill. Why not band together? Some things just make sense. Unfortunately, I'm not getting your point.

Anonymous - no, I'm not worried about college aged kids drinking, I just said that we have a larger amount of underage kids per capita due to the colleges in town. I'm sorry, I think most 18 year old kids are too young to purchase alcohol and drink responsibly anyway. If they have fake id's - that's the problem of wherever they're getting them or the clubs who are letting them in with it. But they don't have to get their booze from us. And truly - that's another topic in general.

I've never said we as a society cant stop underage drinking. Listen, if you vote yes on question 1 - that's your perogative. Just be well informed about your decision from both sides, and not just from one.


lecollye said...

Na Na Na Na...Na Na Na Na...Hey Hey Hey...Goodbye Blue Laws...I'm sure that if my family owned a liquor store I would have one of those signs in the window too. But there aren't any good reasons to keep this law and I will never vote for anything out of fear. Let's open the flood gates. It may be the time to start thinking of reasons why people should shop at a liquor stores over than grocery stores rather than scaring away all of your customers before the ball drops.

Rebecca said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
beaconhillwine said...

Hmmm. Interesting. I can think of a ton of reasons as to why shop at a liquor store over grocery store. Do you know one of the number one complaints about liquor stores and wine shops (especially) is the lack of customer service?

Listen here's the thing. If you're in the market for a 40oz of beer, or a bottle of E&J Gallo - then sure this law wouldn't mean anything to you. You're not in the market for most things that a liquor store offers. It's more than beer and nips.

The heightened awareness I was trying to bring wasn't even necessarily from the perspective of a shop owner but as a Mom.

Why do you think the major proponents of this law outside of retailers are the police organizations and the Drunk Driving/MADD groups? They're the ones who clean up the messes both physically and emotionally from negligent drunk driving.

There's more than one side to an issue. That's all I'm suggesting you keep in mind when voting.

Anonymous said...

It is asinine to think that drunk driving accidents and underage drinking is going to increase if wine can be sold in retail outlets other than liquor stores. Underage drinkers will get alcohol if they want to. You cannot stop that.
I with the liquor stores used their lobbying budget to encourage responsible drinking and alochol awareness for those under 21 than spreading false possibilities of what will happen if Question One passes. If the liquor stores are so concerned about underage drinking and drunk driving why didn't we see them campaign against the law allowing people to bring wine home from restaurants (in the car!).

Wines & Vines said...

Hi Anonymous,
I'm not going to debate with you. I was just sharing another perspective with the audience out here.

There is no "lobbying budget" I'm not sure what you're referring to. And of course, people vote individually about whats important to them, and collectively when it's against a certain industry. I personally do not believe in allowing an opened bottle out of a restaurant; but the liquor stores do not come out collectively to oppose or support it because it's not our arena, just as restaurants aren't opposing or supporting this bill.

Sometimes I wonder if people argue for the sake of arguing....

This is my last post on this with regards to Question 1 and debating for the sake of debating. Keep an open mind about all ballot questions always - and always be well informed when you vote so that you know you're making the right choice for you - no matter what the topic is.

Anonymous said...

All you vote yes people are living in pure denial. If there is more supply out there, of course there would be more users. If there were more drug dealers, wouldnt there be more opputunities for use?

Also, would all of you like to see your money go to foreign companies? A vote yes would mean putting smaller business out on the streets, the same way the mom & pop hardware stores and pharmacies have gone. With over 2000 licenses already in the state isnt there ample oppurtunity to get what you want now? Is it really worth putting hard working businessmen out of work, so you can save 50 cents on a bottle of kendall jackson chardonnay? Also, while you might save in the short run, what happens when there are less liquor stores to choose from, when a third of their business has diminished? Will your five choices of vineyards be great? That is all the choice you'll have at Super markets, because they will make deals to be exclusive on a lot of big vineyards and forget about the super nice boutique wines, for reasonable prices you'll find at quality liquor stores.

And another thing, do you really think just because its wine that will stop teenagers from asking their friends at these new locations from a)selling it, or b)stealing it for them. Tennagers will drink what ever is available easiest, as long as it has alchohol in it and they can get it.

This is so much more of an issue than just convenience, and the short sightedness of yes voters is incredible!!! Keep small business alive, and alchohol out of the hands of children, VOTE NO ON 1!!!!!

wines and vines said...

Thank you....very nicely put. :)

Anonymous said...

That is actually a very self centered comment for two reasons, teenagers, most of the ones I have seen drinking anyways have as much taste and class as those who are of legal drinking age. Go to any college party around the United States or the World for that matter and tell me that they are concerned about what they are drinking. I however do agree with the general idea of this one sided statement in saying that it should not be sold in just any shop. Some states already allow it, such as New Hampshire. In New Hampshire, the gas stations sell beer and wine and teens are going to get a hold of alcohol no matter what vote is made.

Wines and Vines said...

Hi Anonymous -
Thanks for your input. I'm not sure what you mean about teenagers having class and taste; that has never really been a concern of mine. I do believe that teenagers have the ability to access alcohol in plenty of venues - additional stores to me, were just not necessary. The voters of MA agreed as well because the law didn't pass.

My particular concerns were multi faceted, although some of the responses may have seemed one sided. I don't see any positives to the law having passed - and it wasn't a competition issue for me. My competition (in my case specifically) isn't even the liquors stores on the same street as me -- they're in other towns.

But, it's always good conversation anyway - and everyone's opinions count. :)

Thanks for stopping in.