By COLLIN BROOKS
Wine will soon be right around the aisle in grocery stores in Tennessee once the clock strikes July 1. But it has taken the Food City located in Jonesborough more than just a few days to get prepared for the date.
It took the grocery store — who along with Ingles in Jonesborough will be the only two grocery chains selling wine in Tennessee’s oldest town — over a month to prepare.
“We have been working the whole month of June, just checking all the different wines in and getting everything set and ready. It’s been a busy month lead-up to get it ready to go,” Jonesborough Food City Manager Dwayne Morgan said.
The store will carry more than 700 different types of wines with prices ranging from $3.99 to a bottle of Concha Y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet that will be the most expensive at $99.99.
While patrons will be able to buy the wine on July 1 at 8 a.m. and the following day, the grocery stores, like package stores, won’t be able to sell wine on Sundays or five holidays. One of those happens to be the Fourth of July; with the others being Christmas, Thanksgiving, Labor Day and New Year’s Day.
This follows ennessee Governor Bill Haslam signing into order on March 20, 2014, the bill that allows the sale of wine in grocery stores. The bill authorizes the Alcoholic Beverage Commission to issue licenses to sell wine at a “retail food store” beginning on July 1, 2016, to an applicant seeking a license in a county or municipality that meets the following requirements: The locality passes a referendum allowing the sale of wine at retail food stores; and the locality has full-time law enforcement through a police or sheriff’s department.
A retail food store is defined as an establishment that is open to the public and derives at least 20 percent of its sales from the retail sale of food and food ingredients for human consumption and has a retail space of at least 1,200 square feet.
Selling wine won’t be inexpensive for the establishments. A nonrefundable application fee of $400 was required by the applicants, along with an annual license fee of $1,250.
The Tennessee ABC said in a press release that it has approved retail food store licenses for 422 grocery store throughout Tennessee. As of Friday, June 24, 422 stores or 73 percent of all grocery stores that applied, had received licenses in accordance with the state’s new law.
The ABC said in the same release that they will review every license application received as of today and is close to completing that step already, according to Executive Director Clayton Byrd.
“We have made tremendous progress in reviewing and processing applications from hundreds of stores as we move toward the July 1 rollout,” said Byrd. “Nearly every grocery store in the state holding a conditional letter of approval before the July 1 rollout who took steps to sell wine on July 1st will be able to do so on that date.”
The ABC had received 573 applications and issued 430 conditional letters of approval, delivered 422 licenses, and conducted 551 site inspections.
Food City had received 69 wine licenses that they applied for, according to Food City President/CEO Steven C. Smith.
The two Roadrunner stores that are located in Jonesborough have also been approved to carry wine in the town of Jonesborough.
There is also a stipulation in the law that prohibits a retail food store from being issued a license to sell wine prior to July 1, 2017, if the establishment of the applicant seeking the license is within 500 feet of an establishment holding an “alcoholic spirituous beverages license.”