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Why is My Tennessee Liquor Store Closed on the 4th of July and Other Holidays?

Jul 5, 2015

Tennessee liquor laws often make no sense to consumers.  Why can't I buy wine in a grocery store?  Why can't I buy wine and spirits on Sundays at a liquor store, but I can buy a glass of wine or mixed drink at a restaurant or bar?

The short answer is politics.

For decades, Tennessee law limited ownership of retail liquor stores to single store mom and pop owners.  Albeit imperfect, the one store retail liquor law established a legal foundation for small business owners to be the only source for purchasing wine and spirits in Tennessee.

In a time-honored Tennessee legislative tradition, Tennessee liquor store owners paid enough money to hire a powerful lobbyists to protect their interests.

For a mom and pop store, being able to close on holidays is a major perk.  By law, liquor stores cannot open on the following holidays:

New Year's Day
Fourth of July
Labor Day

With state law prohibiting competitors from opening, mom and pops can comfortably take the day off.

For a liquor store owner, it is a nice fringe benefit.  For consumers, it makes absolutely no sense.

Kim Wilde's underground 1980's single "Kid's in America" comes to mind:

Outside Suburbia's sprawling everywhere

I don't want to go baby

New York to East California

There's a new wave coming I warn you

We're the kids in America

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