If you drive west toward town on Union, you’ll pass the Kimbrough liquor store marquee. Whoever writes it tries to put up humor or information to catch your attention.
For the past few weeks they’ve had up something implying that if wine is sold in grocery stores, the very rich Waltons will become even richer. They urge a no vote on the liquor in grocery store referendum on next Tuesday’s ballot.
It’s a sign of desperation.
It doesn’t make sense. I don’t think a lot of the Walton family is involved in WalMart ordering and purchasing. I doubt they even care. Why would they? Lots of states sell wine in their stores. They don’t need Tennessee to prosper. Who knows if wine is even very profitable for them?
Then what is wrong with the Waltons becoming richer anyhow? Is there a law against that? Yet? Providing a service or item that people want at a low price is a good thing. If they become richer, so will others as the money moves down the chain. It’s anti American to even think this way. Leave that class envy to the old Soviets.
But isn’t this referendum really about the consumer, not the store owner? Memphians want the ease of being able to pick up wine in the grocery store as they purchase their meat, vegetables and other dinner items. Millions of other Americans have this right now. Wine is more likely to be enjoyed with food than beer is and we’ve been selling beer in groceries for a long time.
Kimbrough is not alone, however. Over at Joe’s on Poplar, his sign also asks people to vote against the referendum.
Then in today’s Commercial Appeal, Buster’s gets a word in. Josh Hammond of Buster’s writes an opinion piece against the referendum. He argues that it will “potentially threaten public safety in our community.” He and other opponents claim that more people will have access to alcohol – especially young people- and that increases risk. That seems unlikely since we have strict ID laws. The grocery stores may be even better monitors than the liquor stores on this. They demand an ID for beer, tobacco and even dry ice purchases. Besides, young people will get it from someone anyhow as the Prohibition people found out in the 20s. And that little social experiment didn’t turn out so well, did it?
Hammond also argues that revenue in his store will go down and he’ll have to cut employees. Higher prices will be passed on to the consumer, he warns. Well, we hear that argument whenever some innovation comes along. The best will triumph anyhow. How does he know he’ll have to cut employees? He may not have to. Besides, he’s got til July 2016 to make adjustments, so it may not be necessary to layoff anyone.
He even argues that the increased sales volume will “dramatically stress the commission’s (Alcoholic Beverage Commission) already taxed resources, lead to bigger government.” Pardon me if I don’t shed a tear for stressed government workers. I’ve seen the stress toll taken on IRS workers as they went to Vegas, put on a show and lounged in hot tubs drinking wine. Not sure that even a few more will lead to bigger government. How much more bloated can it get?
Why are they afraid of competition? Isn’t it more likely more people being introduced to wine will lead more to want more varieties and check out a full store instead of the limited stock at Kroger? The referendum would not apply to liquor, so the store owners have a full monopoly on that. They will have ample time to develop marketing and other inducements since the law would not go into effect til July 2016.
What these store owners aren’t telling you is that they’ve had a gravy train for a long time. They don’t want to see it end. I don’t think it will.
I’m tired of all the whining about it. Buck up, market yourselves and keep going. Let Tennesseans have the freedom to purchase where they want.