ON JAN. 28, SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS and independent wine sellers throughout the state of New York announced the formation of a new coalition called The Last Store on Main Street to stop the state’s legalisation of wine sales in places other than licensed liquor stores.
“Basically we believe that it would put mom-and-pop retail stores selling wine and liquor out of business within the first year,” says HEATHER HAMILTON of Long’s Wines and Liquors on Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn. “We believe that it would give much greater access [to wine and liquor] to our children.”
Just last year, voters in Massachusetts rejected a similar proposal. In California, Texas and Florida, where wine is sold everywhere, the number of alcohol-related fatalities per 100,000 is more than double that of New York state. Worse still, alcohol-related fatalities of those 21 and under are three times higher in states where wine is sold everywhere.
“The bottom line is that it’s a bad thing for our kids and a bad thing for our neighborhoods,” says Hamilton.
The coalition argues that because small wine retailers can closely monitor clients and sales, teens have a harder time purchasing alcohol at their establishments, as opposed to at larger chain supermarkets.
Governor Paterson’s proposal will benefit large stores like Walmart without creating any new jobs, while the small, ‘main street’ stores might be devastated by the resulting loss of business.
Jeff Saunders of Great Neck-based Retailers Alliance Foundation says, “We know that this change would close more than 1,000 small businesses, resulting in the loss of over 4,000 jobs of hardworking New Yorkers. That’s bad for New York and our economy.”
Small business retailers who would be affected by the Governor’s proposal have expressed that 65 to 80 percent of their overall sales are devoted to wine, putting their store’s livelihood and employees’ jobs at great risk, according to the coalition’s web site.
“It’s in the Governor’s budget this time,” adds Hamilton. “It’s defacto. It’s happening. You actually have to work against it if you don’t like it.”
Besides, who at Walmart will be able to recommend a bottle to go with your Valentine’s Day dinner? Maybe, one concerned citizen joked, Long’s should start carrying guns, as the megastore now does. The Last Store on Main Street urges concerned citizens to visit their web site, www.lastmainstreetstore.com, to sign a petition to Paterson and the New York Legislature.