Wine-in-grocery stores opponent warns of rise in 'street drinkers'

Tuesday, December 8, 2009 at 2:58pm
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Changing state law to allow the sale of wine in grocery stores could lead to an epidemic of boozing in Tennessee with drunken vagrants cluttering the streets of neighborhoods, a crusader against underage drinking warned a state legislative committee Tuesday.

Pamela Erickson, president of the temperance group Public Action Management, testified during the second day of hearings on the legislation, which has failed three straight years in the face of opposition from an unlikely partnership of liquor stores and churches.

“I don’t think you could make a big change like that without increasing consumption and social problems,” Erickson said. “I know a lot of people say 33 states sell wine in grocery stores and they don’t have problems. Well believe me, we do have problems.”

In one state, she said, “Street drinkers came and they littered the neighborhood. I had an employee who lived in that area, and he had to literally move bodies of alcoholics who had passed out in his driveway in order to drive his children to work, and these people would be shouting obscenities to him and his children. … You’re just bound to have more problems with street drinking if you radically increase the outlets for this particular product.”

Erickson claimed supermarkets in England sell booze at low prices, enticing young people to go on binges and causing liver disease and other health problems.

“When you deregulate, you unleash very powerful market forces,” she said. “In the U.K. the large grocery chains are widely blamed for this epidemic. They use alcohol frequently as a loss leader. They’ve driven the price of alcohol ever lower. They’ve been truly devastated by this issue.”

“People ask, why can’t we just be like Europe where they have fewer regulations and a lot fewer problems? That’s just a myth. It’s simply not true at all. … In most European countries, alcohol problems are much greater than ours. In 10 years, hospital admissions for liver disease and acute intoxication of alcohol have doubled in England. One of the shocking things is that 8-year-old children show up in the hospital because they’ve been drinking too much.”

The joint legislative study committee held its first hearings in October.  It's chaired by Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, a supporter of wine in grocery stores.

55 Comments on this post:

By: dargent7 on 12/8/09 at 4:07

The only problem is miss-information and brains.
In England, "pubs" are on every block, like coffee shops in America.
In America, you cannot advertise cigarettes on TV, so control ads for grocery stores.
Groceries "card" for age for beer, they can do the same for wine.
Drunks and vagrants favor beer, malt liquor, not fine wine.
Groceries should be able to sell the low level wine to not take away from Liquor stores: Masson, Almaden.
Yes, liquor stores would probably lose not more than 20% of sales. Their bread and butter is hard liquor and wines $10. and up a bottle.
Groceries would cater to the ma & pa drinkers who wouldn't know chardonnay from a siraz.

By: border collie on 12/8/09 at 4:24

We have never sold alcohol at Kroger or Food Lion...so why start now??? This is yet another CHANGE that we do not care to have. We are not accustomed to buying anything other than beer at the grocery so why change??? it is NO inconvenience to me to go to a liquor store cause i only go once or twice a year. If you need alcohol every week then get your butts to the liquor store. It will put the small liquor stores out of business if you do not.
Kill the small guys business for the sake of those shoppers who think they need to drink alcohol on a regular basis and are to lazy to go to the liquor store.
If everyone would condemn alcohol as they do cigarettes we would see a totally different country.
cigarettes kill those smoking them...sometimes....alcohol can kill a bus load of people (and the drunk survives) but we never raise the tax or the prices on alcohol....just fight to make it more convenient to get drunk!!!

By: matahari on 12/8/09 at 4:27

I fail to see how having wine in grocery stores will suddenly create a reefer madness type situation. The discriminating drunks and vagrants who refuse to buy beer at convenience stores and grocery stores will finally get drunk again because they can buy wine instead? Anyone of age with an id and cash can go into a liquor store and buy alcohol.
Liquor stores would be able to sell cork screws and accessories. Will everyone who buys wine at liquor stores suddenly not be able to control themselves and open the bottles right there on the street? This is propaganda at its very finest. Its not like alcohol is unattainable here, and the law is being changed to put a glass in every citizen's hand (over age 21, of course). Huntsville freaking Alabama has wine in grocery stores, and they don't have a greater number (proportionally) of drunks and vagrants than Nashville does. Let it pass and let it go. And if you're afraid you might give in to temptation, there are plenty of 12 step programs at your local church. There aren't any limits on those.

By: flyguy74 on 12/8/09 at 4:34

FEAR. This propaganda is all about fear. I moved here from NC, yes a Southern state but they allowed the sales of wine in their grocery stores. There were no "drunken vagrants cluttering the streets" there. For the wine consumers in TN this law is both ridiculous and out of its time. The downtown scene in Nashville & I will speak of it solely because it is the capital, has flourished, expanded, we have a LEEDS community now. Times have changed, landscaped have changed & it is time for laws to change. "Vagrants" typically will resort to cheap wine, or mixed wines, for the true wine consumer we will typically pay anywhere from $2 (Trader Joes) to $50 for a bottle of wine for dinner, guests, celebrations, etc. The liquor stores do not want this bill passed for it will put a dent in their sales, however as consumers our voice should finally be heard. The "vagrants" are often around the liquor stores, I have NEVER seen one around a wine store. Go figure. Follow the paper trails, the money never lies... that is the ones who are standing between this bill. As far as taxes, TN could learn more from looking at other states and their tax breakdown. I moved here from NC & before that FL... with the exception of FL, NC knew how to run things and operated efficiently in doing so. Someone just needs to take the reigns and do so. Bicker, bicker, bicker but nothing ever seems to get resolved in this city.

By: house_of_pain on 12/8/09 at 4:39

bc, you would still have the right to NOT purchase wine in the grocery store. Nobody will try to force you. Liquor laws around here are seriously antiquated. Time to use a little common sense with this issue, and allow wine sales in grocery stores. There is no good reason to vote against this.

By: kman0066 on 12/8/09 at 4:43

Street drinkers? Oh come on. Apparently the reason there are not already these "street drinkers" littering my driveway is that they are too lazy to go to the liquor store which is right next to every grocery store out there already.

They should put a ban on the wine in churches and see how fast the law gets reversed. It's ok to get wine anywhere and at any age you want on a Sunday, as long as you think you're drinking Jesus blood and not wine. Freaks!

By: kman0066 on 12/8/09 at 4:49

QUOTE[We have never sold alcohol at Kroger or Food Lion...so why start now??? This is yet another CHANGE that we do not care to have. We are not accustomed to buying anything other than beer at the grocery so why change??]

What's this "we" you refer to? Some of us are accustomed to buying in liquor stores. Those of us who live in other places in the U.S. and world.

By: border collie on 12/8/09 at 5:05

Precisely, this is my hometown and if i wanted the fast city life that you have run from i would go seek it out. that is why everyone started migrating here in the 80's.....small, quiet, polite, town with a passion for music and the outdoors...with a small group of eclectic artists who made our town quaint, comfortable, and appealing......
Now....everyone who moves here wants to change it to resemble where they came from.. or where they have been....STOP!!!! Even country music is not country anymore...it is 80's rock...pure and simple...
We need to focus on how terrible our schools are and preserving what little we have left that is familiar to us.....don't mean to necessarily offend just want to open the eyes of those who think we need to change everything ....you are destroying what you came here to seek out! unless the $$$ is your only reason for relocating here...then it will fall on deaf ears

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/8/09 at 5:06

let the free market dictate! lol!

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/8/09 at 5:07

bc, everything changes. change is inevitable. times change, people change, places change. selling wine in the grocery stores is not going to destroy Nashville.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/8/09 at 5:08

Nashville doesn't belong exclusively to the people who were here first. sorry, it doesn't work that way.

By: house_of_pain on 12/8/09 at 5:09

I'm from here, and the current law is S T U P I D.
And it doesn't hurt you if someone else buys their wine at Kroger's.

By: border collie on 12/8/09 at 5:16

you are right nazi...but have you had the pleasure of driving past the same sites for over 40 years....i have and it saddens me to see it all slipping away...led by progress and those who want change and improvement.....if it isn't broke do not fix it.....
Those who were here first are the reason the city was appealing in the first place to people who wanted to escape their native cities....i would not go to your hometown and try to change it into nashville....so why change mine...and yes, if my family has paid taxes and farmed and built buildings in this town for 100 years why do i not have a right to protest the change????? who does????

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/8/09 at 5:17

bc, you're not facing reality. fine me ONE place that doesn't change.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/8/09 at 5:21

btw, not everyone was trying to "escape their native cities." as if Nashville is the only good place on earth. gimme a break.

By: border collie on 12/8/09 at 5:25

reality sucks sometimes so why give in??? you have to stand for something? i have never succumbed to peer pressure...and i will never...if no-one else is on my side...i could care less...but remember why you haven't left nashville......you continue to stay...so ....i must be on the right track in some fashion

By: dtravis1973 on 12/8/09 at 5:25

I've moved from a city thats sales wine in there grocery stores, and there has never that I've heard of been a problem with it. What is the big deal???

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/8/09 at 5:32

wow, bc. you're off your rocker.

By: msslau on 12/8/09 at 5:36

woods is out of his freaking mind

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/8/09 at 5:38

why do you say Woods is? he's just reporting it.

By: house_of_pain on 12/8/09 at 5:40

bc, it's pretty obvious that you want to impose your beliefs on everyone else.
Stop smoking the Bible for a minute, and try...just try...to be rational.

By: fishmaster on 12/8/09 at 5:42

I have live in many areas that sale wine in grocery stores and have never found drunks blocking my driveway except my own party left overs. Come on ms Erickson if you want to be believed don't put crap like that in your statements. Just makes you look stupid. Why would someone not call the police if they had drunks blocking their driveway and swearing at them and their children? I fully understand peoples concern but don't use scare tatics to try to bend my thinking in your direction. I think wine should be sold in grocery stores and I don't drink. And if underaged persons want to drink they will get it no matter where you do or do not sell it.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/8/09 at 5:43

every other state i lived in sold wine in grocery stores. no big deal.

By: dogmrb on 12/8/09 at 8:06

Please change your name border collie. The last thing border collies are is judgemental: they're just too busy to try to control wine drinkers.

By: dargent7 on 12/9/09 at 4:59

Gee, great thread boys and girls. Every evolved state sells wine in groceries...and on Sunday too. Get with it. If you people here cannot handle wine, how about medical marijuana shops? Talk about a revolution. I'd advise to settle for the wine sales.

By: slacker on 12/9/09 at 7:30

border collie, you being a native Nashvillian, must remember the ''blue laws,'' do you really want to go back to that silliness?

By: Funditto on 12/9/09 at 8:02

Remember all the hubbub when Hills started selling *GASP* beer? I saw customers YELLING at the poor check out clerks as if it were their fault as they claimed our entire town was just outside the gates of hell.

By: JKennedyMD on 12/9/09 at 8:37

The liquor store lobby is not interested in curbing alcohol consumption; they're primarily interested in their own profits.

If they were concerned about chemical abuse, they would develop a system of identifying those who are deemed as chemically dependent and refusing to sell to them. They would be lobbying to eliminate tobacco and beer sales throughout the state. They would be sponsoring advertisements on television regarding the dangers of alcohol addiction and how to promote responsible consumption.

Yes....alcohol and drug addiction is a terrible problem in Tennessee; however to what extent will we eliminate its availability? Not anytime soon, given that alcohol is served at legislative functions and provides tax revenue and profits through liquor-by-the-drink venues.

I say - sell wine in grocery stores, just like they sell beer. Sell "hard liquor" in grocery stores "behind the counter". Make "medical" marijuana available, like it is becoming available in Colorado. However...if we do this....it should be taxed in such a way that the consequences to society (e.g. car wrecks, lost employment) are properly funded.

By: willt on 12/9/09 at 8:39

THE SKY IS FALLING, the sky is falling!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By: border collie on 12/9/09 at 8:49

I am an old soul i suppose and probably a lot of people under age 65 do not agree with me. personally, i don't care if i am deemed a Bible thumper....much rather be called that than a paganistic fool. If you folks get this upset about wanting more than beer at the grocery....i bet a lot of you will be the same gun toting angry folks in the bars.....the mindset of people int he last 20 years has gone to the gutters...if many others are doing it then everyone else should follow suit cause it must be acceptable....i wasn't raised that way.....sorry....

By: JeffF on 12/9/09 at 9:04

If displaying wine at the grocery stores is a problem require the store owners to hide it behind the beer. Seriously what person attributes "street drinking" to wine sales in supermarkets? Newspapers should give IQ tests to people wanting to be interviewed for a story to make sure they do not say embarrassing things. Was she wearing a tin foil hat during the interview? Pam attributes vagrancy and drunkenness to grocery stores? Unbelievable!

By: slacker on 12/9/09 at 9:12

border collie, your religious views have nothing to do with this. Its your rationale for wanting to deny other people, the convenience of buying wine in grocery stores, instead of having to make another stop at a liquor store. Same difference, just more gasoline burned.

By: border collie on 12/9/09 at 9:17

however, i do agree that bums will not be laying on the corner in front of the grocery drunk if wine is there....they will continue to lay on the sidewalk at mcdonalds or wherever they currently are now....and FYI as a teen if alcohol (other than beer) had been available at the grocery i am sure i would have consumed MORE! ( my parents did not have a stash i could steal from) I was to intimidated to go into a liquor store under age....but Kroger would have been less intimidating to someone wanting to obatin illegal alcohol.....Cause lets face it people.....MANY kids experiment...most actually and they go for the easy way....

By: HighlyAnnoyed on 12/9/09 at 9:20

You are never going to silence the opposition of religious nutjobs and chicken-little (the world is going to end) types. Just ignore them. They are anti-freedom and quite frankly shouldn't be allowed to live in America. Not only should wine be sold in grocery stores. So, should all alcholic beverages. Let's start acting like we still don't live in the dark ages. Let people be responsible for themselves. And, for you religious nuts - you people are crazy and should be told so ever time you open your mouth.

By: lamons on 12/9/09 at 9:27

This is one of the silliest arguments against wine in grocery stores I have read, almost as silly as the argument that it will put the small mom and pop operations out of business. As anyone from all of the nearly 40 other states that have wine in grocery stores can tell you, it is a simple matter of convenience for the basics and these states do not have issues with "street drinkers" binging on a bottle of cabernet. Secondly, if the legislators are so concerned about mom and pop, where were they when Wal Mart came into virtually every small town in Tennessee and sold jewelry, tires, electronics, hardware, etc....this put far more mom and pop stores out of business than Kroger selling a small selection of wines ever will. This is strictly about the liquor lobby controlling our state legislators and nothing else.

By: yazoo on 12/9/09 at 9:38

Too funny @bordercollie. First you rant and rave about how you oppose this since it will cause widespread problems. Then you reveal that you are really ranting about all the (so called) Yanks that have disrupted your "simple" life. And THEN you go and confess that you have no reasonable self control when it comes to alcohol. The problem with this legislation is actually your shame based conciousness. You want to impose on the rest of us restrictions that you need since you are too weak to manage them yourself.

And just as funny: Jeff Woods Op-edding' in this rag vs the Scene

By: Kosh III on 12/9/09 at 9:50

I have lived in places where wine and liquor are sold openly in grocery stores, as well as convenience stores. The sky did not fall, however prices fell.
Heck, you could buy generic: Safeway vodka wasn't all that bad but it sure cost a lot less.

By: border collie on 12/9/09 at 9:57

Since i am a religious nutjob...even though i haven't been to Church in 20 years let me say this.....i do believe in God...and will not denounce him. if you do not that is fine...you are entitled to believe in nothing...something...anything....but i think you are crazy for demanding hard liquor in a grocery store..it is unnecessary....you think i am crazy for saying it is a bad idea....OK...why must you throw rocks at me and call me a nut?
we are selling pot in stores....what's next crack? meth? what about some playboy at kroger? no need to hide the front cover...all women have the same parts? right? anything goes.....the more we steer into the fast lane ...the easier it gets...that is what is so scary....what is acceptable today would have gotten you arrested 30 years ago...

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/9/09 at 9:57

I would love for Trader Joe's to be able to carry Two Buck Chuck.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 12/9/09 at 9:57

yazoo hit the nail on the head.

By: border collie on 12/9/09 at 10:21

i give up....twisted words and haters...i don't drink but once or twice a year...many reasons exist as to why this is not a good idea...and yes you are correct you have no shame as we see.....and i was raised with a conscious ....my stupid parents tried to raise a descent, caring, empathetic, unselfish individual who will stand up for beliefs regardless of the name calling.....those stupid parents succeeded. am i weak? yes, i have a weakness and it is called: being to sentimental and caring......damnation!

By: slacker on 12/9/09 at 10:32

border collie, don't get your feelings hurt, and go wallowing in your own self pity because people disagree with you. If you ever see wine for sale in a grocery store, just don't buy any.

By: Rocket99 on 12/9/09 at 10:54

First of all, I'm a life long Tennessee resident who moved from a small town to the Big City. Not a transplant from another big city.

As far as under age drinking goes, in Tennessee, the sales clerks are REQUIRED to check EVERYONE'S ID regardless of age before making the sale. So, the argument of increased under age sales goes right out the window.

Drunks laying in driveways close to all the grocery stores is laughable at best. If that was going to happen, it already would from all the liquor stores located next to the gorcery stores.

Yes I know there are fake IDs out there. That's something which will never go away.

If a clerk is caught selling to someone under age regardless of whether the buyer has a fake ID or not, the clerk and the store can be fined and sales license revolked.

Oh yeah. Most of the grocery and convenience stores already sell alcohol (beer, coolers, cider, etc.) so, what's adding wine going to do?

By: border collie on 12/9/09 at 11:01

no self pity here....feel sorry for those who have become so hardened and jaded in their personal experiences....the simple life is the good one...as Sawyer Brown sang: I'll take the dirt road....it's all i know....forget the concrete road most traveled....i never follow the crowd...they are usually wrong!

By: Funditto on 12/9/09 at 11:09

How will wine in grocery stores harm anyone's quality of life? I'm curious.

By: dogmrb on 12/9/09 at 11:10

It is just the wholesalers and liquor store owners who are against this. I'm still waiting for the picture of the drunks laying in the driveway though.

By: slacker on 12/9/09 at 11:24

It might create a new service: Drunks in the driveway removal. Free estimates.

By: Rocket99 on 12/9/09 at 11:30

I'm guessing the wholesalers and liquor store owners will join up with all the Baptist and Church of Christ churches to oppose it. Politics does make strange bedfellows.

By: d4deli on 12/9/09 at 1:08

I rarely buy liquor, and it bothers me to have to go to a liquor store to buy wine. Why wine is in a different category from beer which is available EVERYWHERE, I am not sure. I suppose someone is counting the few more points of alcohol content in most wines, and making a issue of it. I say, bring wine to the grocery store where it belongs!

By: global_citizen on 12/9/09 at 2:51

"Pamela Erickson, president of the temperance group Public Action Management"

You need read no more than this to know that you're not going to get a truthful point of view from this lady. She's a lobbyist for one. And she advocates on behalf of a temperance group, i.e. a group who is ideologically opposed to the consumption of alcohol.

Of course she's going to paint a picture of alcohol as a personification of evil. She's going to paint dire (and wholly unrealistic) pictures of alcohol causing the complete ruin of our good city. "Drunks will be passed out in your driveway if we allow Kroger to sell wine!!!" LOL.

Allowing the sale of wine in grocery stores is an innocuous and reasonable accommodation to public demand. Those opposing this are going to ridiculous lengths and bizarre contortions of logic and reason.