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October 21, 2015

Wine in Grocery Stores becomes a reality for Tennessee on July1, 2016.  For consumers anxious to purchase wine at Kroger, Wal-Mart and Publix, the wait for July 2016 seems like an eternity.

We wonder how much Tom Petty makes on royalties from playing The Waiting is the Hardest Part at countless arenas and stadiums:

Baby, we know better than to try and pretend
No one coulda ever told me 'bout this
I said, yeah, yeah

The waiting is the hardest part

Savvy grocers and big box retailers are chomping at the bit to have local certificates of compliance, ABC licenses, training, manger permits, cashier permits and other logistics in place to be able to sell wine on day one of WIGS.  We believe that many wine drinkers will be elated to buy wine beginning July 1 at their favorite grocer.

We also think that grocers that fail to have all the permits in place to sell wine by July 1 could lose valuable customers.  WIGS sets up an opportunity to gain market share.

Although WIGS is a very detailed law, there are crucial practical issues that are not spelled out in WIGS.  We applaud the Tennessee ABC for proposing rules to help guide industry members looking to obtain wine licenses and legally market and sell wine.  The proposed regs are here WIGS Regs

We encourage industry members, particularly food stores, to review the proposed regs thoroughly, as there are a number of important requirements.  Perhaps the most significant proposal in the regs is specifying that certificates of compliance expire in 180 days.  The certificate of compliance is essentially city or county approval for obtaining a WIGS license.  Previously, certificates of compliance were valid for 2 years.

With grocers anxious to qualify for WIGS, we have heard that many stores are already obtaining certificates of compliance.  If the new ABC reg becomes a rule, the early birds will not get the worm.  Their certificates of compliance will expire before the ABC can approve wine in food store licenses.

The proposed 180 day rule does not specify when in the ABC application process that the certificate of compliance expires.  We suspect that the ABC will require that the certificate of compliance be valid as of the tine of issuance of the  licensee.

We encourage applicants to carefully plan timing of WIGS applications.  The process is fraught with traps.

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