Tear Down the Wall: Tennessee Liquor Stores Can Combine Beer and Liquor Stores on July 1, 2014

Tear Down the Wall: Tennessee Liquor Stores Can Combine Beer and Liquor Stores on July 1, 2014

Wine in Grocery Stores (WIGS) is a game changer for Tennessee retail liquor stores.  We expect many stores will go out of business.  The next few years are going to see epic changes in the wine and spirits business in Tennessee.

But business-savvy owners can take advantage of several provisions of WIGS.  Now is the time to plan for seizing the benefits of WIGS.  One of the biggest wins for retail liquor stores is being able to combine beer and liquor stores.  Classic rockers Pink Floyd capture the message in four simple words:

Tear down the wall.

Retail liquor store lobbyist David McMahan scored a number of key victories for liquor stores as the WIGS train barreled through the legislature.  The stakes are high for WIGS, and the law is a complicated consensus that is confusing.

Rob Pinson compiled the bill at 2014 WIGS House Compiled.  We expect the final version of WIGS will be identical or very close to the House Bill.

Here is a summary:

Beginning July 1, 2014, retail package stores can sell beer and other related retail items, like cups, ice and corkscrews.  The full list is at Section 10 of the compiled bill.

Retail stores can sell beer without having to deal with the local beer board.  The right to sell beer is included under a retail liquor license.

Retail package stores must make least 65 percent of their sales from alcoholic beverages, including wine and beer. A licensee that does not meet this requirement will be given one year to comply before the license is suspended or revoked.

Retail package stores may have two entrances rather than one main entrance. We presume this is to facilitate tearing down the wail with adjacent beer stores.

One person may hold more than one retail package store license, subject to certain conditions.

WIGS eliminates the prohibition against a liquor store owner holding a restaurant or other on-premise license.  Keep in mind that this allows restauranteurs to enter the package store business.

WIGS legalizes growlers and kegs of wine and spirits.  Note that there are federal restrictions that may prohibit the sale of spirits via growlers and kegs.

The law has a number of complicated exceptions, and we encourage folks to carefully study the law before boldly going where no liquor store has gone before.

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