Kroger begins focused push for wine in grocery stores

Kroger begins focused push for wine in grocery stores (Image 1)

The political push to sell wine in grocery stores is now in your local Kroger.

On Tuesday, the food store chain began an outreach campaign at the Green Hills location.

“We want to spend some time talking with customers, engaging them on the issue, sharing information with them, and telling them how they can get involved to support the effort,” said Kroger spokesperson Melissa Eads.

The effort is an extension of the Red, White, and Food campaign, a coalition of more than 25,000 Tennesseans who want the right to purchase wine at retail food stores.

Tennessee grocers like Kroger already offer beer sales, but the debate to put wine on the shelves has loomed over the state for nearly a decade.

Food and package stores continue to disagree about what a change to state law could do to locally owned shops.

“We feel like there is enough business in that category for everyone to stay in business, maybe even thrive,” Eads said.

“You're essentially taking the ability to sell wine and moving that to large national corporations,” said Dan Hutchinson.

Hutchinson is the manager of The Wine Shoppe of Green Hills. The store stocks an estimated 1,500 different wines. He doesn't fear competition, as long as it's fair.

“We're in favor of free markets. We in favor of a larger market,” he said. “At the moment, they want to be able to do everything and we'll be restricted to what we're currently doing.”

Workers at The Wine Shoppe are pleased to offer a personal touch to wine shopping, offering recommendations and specialty wines. Hutchinson believes wine will eventually be allowed in grocery stores.

“I expect this conversation will be around for years to come,” he said. “It's not a decision that's going to be made overnight. It's not a decision that's going to be made without compromise.”

Kroger officials would like to see it happen soon, and they're ready to initiate the change by urging customers to take action now.

“We want them to make sure that their legislators know, 'Hey, I live in your district. I don't understand why I can't buy wine in the grocery store. I need you to change this,'” Eads said.

Kroger campaign events are scheduled for Saturday in Brentwood and Bellevue.

The next legislative session begins in January.

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