Proposed Changes to NYS Liquor Laws Threaten Small Businesses

There are currently several proposed changes to New York State liquor laws that would be highly detrimental to wine and liquor stores across the state, to the people who are employed by them, and to the consumers who shop at them.

• The Wine in Grocery Stores (WIGS) proposal would, simply put, drive countless small stores out of business. Most of the 3,800 stores in New York State would not be able to compete with powerhouses such as Wegmans, Trader Joe’s, or Hannaford, and this would result in more empty storefronts and the loss of thousands of jobs across the state. Consumers would also be affected, as a grocery store would not necessarily have space to offer the variety that an independent wine and liquor store does. Chances are, the consumer will not be able to enjoy the customer service they receive in independent stores; special orders, case discounts, wedding and event planning, and carrying out purchases to customers’ vehicles are not likely to be available from grocery stores.
• The same can be said for allowing multiple licenses for liquor storeowners – larger stores will run smaller ones out of business. This reduces competition, which goes against the very nature of our economic system. The greater the reach of multiple licenses for one owner increases the chance of these chains becoming monopolies in the industry, which is never good news for the consumer.
• Although the intent of the Expanded Bottle Bill to encourage recycling is noble, and we all would like to see less waste and more recycling, it simply is not feasible in many regards. Most small wine and liquor stores have neither the space nor the staff to accommodate this expansion, making compliance with the law nearly impossible. This bill would not only encompass wine and liquor bottles and cans, but would impose deposits on coffee, tea, and juice drinks that are not 100% juice.
• The push for direct-to-consumer shipments of wine and liquor – Amazon’s current focus – poses the same risks as these other measures. This service is simply not necessary when you review the number of stores that offer local delivery, and third-party delivery partners such as Drizly and Door Dash. Although this service may seem like a convenience for the consumer, packages containing alcohol cannot just be left without a signature and ID check, so if you’re not home when your order arrives, you’ll be making a trip to UPS or FedEx to pick it up. Should this pass, you will see giants such as Amazon destroy small businesses at a greater rate than they already are, without being able to deliver on their promises of convenience to consumers.

Small businesses are a huge part of what makes communities feel like home; they employ your friends, neighbors, and family, make the marketplace competitive, and support local causes. The above measures may be presented as a win for consumers, but the billion-dollar businesses behind them are the only ones that will truly benefit.

Use the following links for contact information for your Assemblyperson and Senator, and email or call to tell them that you oppose the proposed changes to New York State liquor laws as outlined above. It’s bad business all around.

New York State Senate

New York State Assembly