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Push to sell wine in New York grocery stores continues

The bill doesn't sit well with liquor store owners.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — You might remember the old advertisement that said, "We will sell no wine before its time."

In the State of New York, that always applies. One-stop shopping sounds good to people who like convenience.

However, in New York State, it takes two stops because grocery stores are prohibited from selling wine. With the new legislation, that could change soon.

State Senator Liz Krueger proposed a bill only allowing full-service grocery stores to sell wine. That means at least 65% of sales have to be food-related. For the most part, 1,900 stores in the state qualify. 

"So we had a growing and potentially successful industry here for New York State farmers and wineries to be able to sell wine here at home, but no outlets for them to sell through," Senator Krueger said. 

Giving local wineries the opportunity to sell their wines on grocery shelves was the main reason Senator Krueger introduced the bill in 2010.

"It was the wineries from upstate New York and Long Island who said nobody is letting us sell our wine. And that relates to the amount of space there is in any given liquor store to sell new products," Senator Krueger said. 

Grocery stores need 65% of sales of food-related items; it excludes store giants from taking part. It's stores like Walmart, Sam's Club, or Walgreens that cannot participate.  

The bill doesn't sit well with liquor store owners. In Cheektowaga, Louis Malone owns a store called Addy's Wine and Spirits. He thinks the bill will hurt his business. 

"Half of my employees are from University at Buffalo. They're the best out there. I love them like family. I just won't be able to hire that many anymore," Malone said. 

Malone's leg up on grocery stores is the customer service he can provide. He worries that will suffer in addition to his store losing sales. 

"People come into our store and we help them. We have a couple of wine Stewarts in the aisle helping out customers. You don't find that in the supermarkets," Malone said. 

The bill is up for a vote next month.

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