HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — At the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, the association representing grocery stores released the results of a professional poll about wine in supermarkets.
“Let me say that the results demonstrate overwhelmingly strong public support for wine sales in Connecticut grocery stores,” said Elaine Barnes, with the STATS Group.
Eighty-four percent of people said “yes” to buying wine in supermarkets. Over in East Hartford, people who run and supply package stores gathered to make their own statements.
“You’re going to put small businesses out of business,” said Ralph Anastasio, with Eder Bros., Inc. Y”ou’re going to put wholesalers, many salespeople out of business.”
Package store owners argue that selling wine in supermarkets would come at a high cost to them.
“I have big supermarkets around us and we sell like 28% to 35% wine,” said Pritesh Patel, a package store owner. “It’s definitely going to affect those small businesses, yes.”
They got on buses to go confront lawmakers, but that professional study went on to make a revelation.
“What we found after very careful analysis, and it’s a very substantial and long report that we provide,” said Professor Fred Cartensen, the director of the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis. “We could not find any harm to package stores.”
Wine experts said good luck finding a recommendation at a supermarket.
“You’ll be lucky if there’s a 17-year-old that they pull out of an aisle who’s stocking Campbell’s soup and tells you, ‘I don’t know, try that label because it’s pretty,’” Anastasio said.
Supermarkets counted that that’s why package stores will never go out of business.
“They’re the ones that know,” said Molly Devanney, the vice president of Highland Park Market. “They’re the experts in wine, they’re the ones with recommendations, and they have a much larger variety than we are going to be able to carry in our stores.”
It is still early in the legislative session. The Food Association said it is still discussing whether there will be restrictions on the kinds of wine sold in supermarkets. That all has to be decided before any bill could go to a floor vote.
State Rep. Mike D’Agostino, (D-District 91), said that it’s important to have the debate, and said during the hearing that legislation can’t say stores can only carry Connecticut wines, as that would violate federal law.
“We don’t want supermarkets just to stock the big-brand names, and that’s it,” he said. “If we’re going to open this up, we want it to be about having as much choice as possible.”
The proposed bill includes a provision that grocery stores cannot sell the items if it is within 1,000 feet of a package store.
Original article found at WTNH.