Saturday, December 4, 2010

A rant about wine prohibition in Memphis grocery stores

During a recent Memphis vacation, I kept running across propaganda put out by the Tennessee Wine And Spirits Retailers Association and their sister monopolists at the Wine And Spirits Wholesalers Of Tennessee.

The TWSRA wants to keep wine out of Tennesse grocery stores. 

Here's some ultra-wholesome boosterism from the WSWT site that tries to explain:
Our industry was created by the 21st amendment, which gives wholesalers the responsibility to foster the safe and responsible distribution of beverage alcohol in Tennessee.

Ours is one of the healthiest wholesaler trade associations in the entire country comprised of more members than any other state. This ensures that the selection of wine and spirits products available in Tennessee is far greater than most states. We are committed to preserving the integrity of our products and the climate in which they are sold.

The story of beverage alcohol distribution in Tennessee is both a lesson in history and a case study in the state's evolving business climate. We are proud of our heritage and take very seriously the duty we have been given by the state to ensure the safe and responsible distribution of our products. Here you will find a wealth of resources regarding Tennessee wholesalers, from our beginning with the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to the role we play in today's competitive market.
The 21st Amendment is the one that ended alcohol prohibition, but allowed government to begin regulating the sale and distribution of alcohol.  In other words, the graft potential was transferred from the bootleggers to the legislatures.
In Fort Worth, Texas and other areas not suffering under Sharia law, you can go into a grocery store and purchase a bottle of wine. 
In Memphis, you can't.  It depends on the whims of the various legislatures.

So what excuse would anyone use to force shoppers to make multiple stops to pick up their bread and wine?
Get know what's coming....they make you run all over town because....IT CREATES JOBS !!!!

Here's Hank Cowles, writing for the Memphis Flyer:

More than one million jobs have vanished in America in the last sixty days, and the end is nowhere in sight. Closer to home, changing our state's current alcohol-sales laws to allow wine sales in grocery stores or other big retailers will not generate a single new job, but would likely throw several thousand of our fellow Tennesseans out of work.

The Tennessee Wine and Retailers Association estimates that between 2000 and 3000 jobs might be lost, while members of the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission estimate they would need to hire over 2000 compliance officers to oversee this expanded availability of wine!

Wine in these stores would be just another item feeding their bottom line without generating more sales tax, while the loss of 2000 jobs would have a serious multiplier effect on the state economy. Most of these people would end up on the states' unemployment rolls, further deflating Tennessee's' ability to help its citizens. (The Tennessee Unemployment Department recently notified most Tennessee employers that the unemployment tax they pay will be increased due to the high number of claims filed by Tennesseans who have already lost their jobs).

As of Saturday, December 4th, in the year of our lord 2010, it is illegal for wine to be transported by anyone other than wine store employees using teams of mules.  Consumers may not transport wine in their own vehicles.  The mule teams, staffed by members of the Teamsters Union (to be regulated by legislative oversight committees), will be charged with making all residential wine deliveries.
All wine shop customers must be carried through Tennessee liquor stores in sedan chairs and each customer will be charged with employing four Customer Carriers upon entering a liquor store.    
Cash registers are now illegal in Memphis wine shops.  Winesellers must do all of their accounting and bookkeeping in traditional ledgers.  A tax rebate will be available for those using an abacus.  

One other thing....both wholesaler websites claim that the Memphis wine selection would decline if grocery stores were allowed to sell wine, implying that the citizens of Memphis now have a variety of vino that would make Bacchus blush. 

Horsecrap.  In the ultra-competitive Fort Worth wine market, we have liquor stores whose contents could float a Memphis steamboat out of a dry dock.   

But I went to TWO different Memphis liquor stores that didn't have any Jim Beam Black Label.  Any Fort Worth store that ran out of JBBL would instantly be surrounded by an angry mob wielding torches and pitchforks. 
But in Memphis people don't know any better. 
The alcohol merchants of Memphis, thanks to the "Bootleggers And Baptists" phenomenon, have never had to compete.  They are allowed to get away with such shameful behavior because Tennessee citizens have no choice in where to buy any alcohol.  (Hit the "Bootleggers And Baptists" label below for an explanation of this behavior.)

Ok, one last point, not quite related to the topic at hand.  My employer, Jukt Micronics, has a factory/warehouse facility in Johnson County, Texas.  Johnson County has the most bewildering overlay of contradictory, Sharia-inspired, idiotic liquor laws that I've ever seen.  You can buy beer in some places, but not in others.  You can purchase wine in a few convenience stores, but not everywhere.  The Baptist Imams and Mullahs have worked hand-in-hand with the Bootleggers to create this monstrous web of confusion.  Who benefits?
The liquor store owners just outside the city limits or county lines. 

Who else benefits? 
Johnson County is now known as the Crystal Meth Capital Of North Texas. 
One adult male out of every ten is now on parole, probation, or is an involuntary guest of the state. 
I'm not saying that there's a cause and effect relationship here, but it seems that all this prohibition is very effective in "saving and creating" jobs for law enforcement, judges, parole officers, probation clerks, jailers, the private prison industry, drug testers, urine tasters, and nanny state stool-sniffers. 

That's all I've got this morning.  Hope you have a great day.  Please keep the wine-deprived citizens of Memphis in your prayers. 

Soli Deo GloriaThere. 


Anonymous said...

Interested to note that your search for that finest of wine known as Jim Beam Black Label led you to conclude that decent wine selections aren't to be found in Memphis. Stay classy.

I own a wine store in Memphis and I'll put my selection of wines up against any in the cosmopolitan and glamorous cowtown mentioned in your column. It may be that the fact you couldn't find the cheap bourbon you were looking for and the fact that wine isn't sold in grocery stores here actually have nothing to do with each other.

I can also tell you that having a monopoly means having no competition. There are no less than seven other wine and liquor stores within three miles of mine. Competition is pretty fierce and prices are no higher than they are in states where there are endcaps of Sutter Home over yonder at the Tom Thumb.

ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

It is always amusing to note the oligopolists excoriating the evil monopolists. It is also great to be a member of a protected class; just ask anyone who has tried to start a taxi business in one of the machine controlled metroplexes.

Many states even allow supermarkets to (allah forfend) sell distilled spirits with no noticeable negative impact on society. Supermarkets do not collect sales tax on non food items in Tennessee? Who knew?

It is similar to the Oregon and New Jersey(?) prohibitions on motorists pumping their own gas. A gas jockey in Ashland, Oregon advised me that X,000 entry level gas jockeys would enter the rolls of the unemploy(able) should the law be repealed.

How to argue with such logic?.

Anonymous said...

I'm not here to hi-jack this thread but the stupid-assed laws of Oregon that prevents customers from pumping their own gas is sheer stupidity.....afterall it is a democratic state. Here's a clue....It's power over the people.
These asswipes have decided the general public isn't smart enough to pump their own gas.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

#1 Anon,
Thanks for chiming in.
The trade associations mentioned in this post have but one purpose, and that is to preserve your monopoly.
They want to keep Memphis grocery stores and convenience stores from selling wine. They exist only as a barrier to entry, and to keep people from having a choice.

Where do you think we would be if Ma Bell had been allowed to continue monopolizing (legally) our phone service?

Also, the bourbon in Memphis isn't cheap. Since Fort Worth liquor stores have to compete with wine in Tom Thumb and Wal-Mart, prices are generally lower.
But Allah appreciates you doing his work, I'm sure.

Agreed. I ran into the New Jersey gas-pumping phenomenon at an auction in Newark a couple of years ago, and talked to a few people about it. Their rationale on gas-pumping makes the logic of liquor laws look like E=MC2.

Anon #2,
They've also decided that people aren't smart enough to buy wine in grocery stores, hire an interior decorator who doesn't have a license, go to an unregulated florist in Louisiana, or import goods from other countries without paying bribes to the government.
Go figure.

Dr Ralph said...

WS - I don't know that it necessarily disqualifies them from buying wine in grocery stores but it's been my observation that a sizable percentage of our citizenry is as dumb as a sack of hammers. Based on what I read here, you seem to be in agreement half the time.

What does that do to your argument?

CenTexTim said...

So we should let the government, which is so much smarter than the general public, decide these things for the poor unenlightened citizens?

And just who elects our governmental overseers? The same people who are as dumb as a sack of hammers...

Dr Ralph said...

CenTexTim - I'm willing to bet a lot of people would say the government overseers that keep getting elected are proof a sizable percentage of our citizenry is as dumb as a sack of hammers. WS has been saying as much for quite some time.

Not that this has much to do with buying beer and wine at your local Winn-Dixie. The whole thing is freaking ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

You know what's even dumber? You can buy wine in a Memphis liquor store, but you can't buy a corkscrew! Where can you buy a corkscrew? A grocery store!

The Whited Sepulchre said...

I don't believe that the gumption of the general populace is as dangerous as the sheer megalomania of political types. The sack of hammers does far less harm, and is sometimes downright useful.
With the exception of the severely handicapped, I believe that nobody makes better decisions for themselves than....themselves.

That applies to buying wine, pumping your own gasoline, growing your own food and selling it (see the new ridiculous Food Safety law) and a host of every other piece of Big Brotherism designed to protect you from you.

Dr Ralph said...

WS - don't get me wrong - I have no quarrel with your conclusion re: wine selling in grocery stores. Hell, if they sold marijuana in the produce department I'd think it fine.

I just question your reasoning.

People (even smart people) make terrible decisions all the time, based not on reason, but raw, unthinking emotion. Marketing and Advertising companies throughout the world would go out of business overnight otherwise.

On the other hand, if people are capable of making such good decisions for themselves, you have to admit to the possibility they think they've made good decisions about who they've elected to serve. Otherwise it's just sour grapes on your part.

Sorry, but you can't have it both ways.

See you in the produce section.

TarrantLibertyGuy said...

I'm a little curious about what 'bad choices' we adults are being saved from? (Puh-leeez! THAT Spanish Rioja with Chilean Sea Bass? Maybe in Trailerville, honey, but not here in Klassytowne!!)

Pairing nightmares aside, I've found ZERO negative impacts on having a great wine section in my local store. I have a pretty good friend who has a wine store that also has a 'make your own vino' deal where you can bottle your own, make your own label, etc. Fun Stuff!

Store's can't do that (by law), but even without the law, most stores wouldn't want to go through all that investment/time/training/personal service that he and his store offers. Make that his chain of stores, he's done pretty well filling the gap of fun wine making activities and hard to find wine stuff!

If Anon's monopoly is busted, maybe they could do something insane... offer a service or product that people need or want at a price that is profitable that people will agree to pay. It just may work!

Dr Ralph said...

In the interest of full disclosure, I need to mention that while in high school I made a gallon of balloon wine which my best friend decanted into my father's empties and sold to our classmates.

We were *not* licensed by the state of Illinois to do this.

rashid1891 said...

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