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New Rules for Tennessee Retail Liquor Stores

Jun 10, 2015

The changes from passage of Wine in Groceries legislation in Tennessee, which we affectionately call WIGS,  are epic.  We predict that the unintended consequences of WIGS will dwarf the changes folks planned for when WIGS was made law.

We learned of one such unexpected result today when we were forwarded a copy of the attached letter here.

Unlike convenience stores, gas stations and groceries, before WIGS, retail package stores in Tennessee were not required to comply with health and food safety codes imposed by local health departments and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.  The sale of sealed containers of non-perishable wine and spirits does not present many health hazards.

With the introduction of potentially perishable products like cheese in liquor stores, we see Agriculture oversight as reasonable, if not predictable.

However, this means more governance for what is already a heavily regulated industry.  Tennessee liquor store owners are going to have to learn new sets of rules and train staff on required procedures.  Owners will have to file applications, pay fees and be inspected for the new requirements.

We expect local heath departments to also look at regulating liquor stores.  Based on our experience, pouring samples of wine and spirits, for example, falls within the purview of the health department.  So does serving even the most basic food items, like crackers to cleanse pallets between tastings.  Health will probably look at dishwashers for glassware, hand sinks for servers and other procedures that many retail liquor store owners have not even considered.

Store owners may be singing the classic Beatles tune:

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world

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