WIGS Has Unsung Silver Lining for Tennessee Retail Package Stores

WIGS Has Unsung Silver Lining for Tennessee Retail Package Stores

The recently minted Tennessee law that legalizes wine in grocery stores (which we affectionately call WIGS) gives retail package store owners new rights in exchange for having to compete against goliath grocery stores for wine sales.

Many liquor stores have been focusing on the newly vested rights to sell beer, glassware, gourmet cheese and other items under WIGS.  Scores of stores have obtained approval from the ABC to merge liquor stores with adjacent beer stores.

A lesser known provision of WIGS eliminates the long-standing prohibition preventing liquor store owners from owning restaurants and bars.  Before WIGS, the ABC aggressively investigated and enforced any accusation of ownership by a retail liquor store owner in a restaurant or bar.  It was completely taboo.

WIGS is not entirely clear, but as we read the section, a retail liquor store owner can also partially or wholly own one or more restaurants or bars. Here is the provision:

Notwithstanding any other provision in title 57 or any rule to the contrary, an individual or corporation may hold a retail license issued pursuant to § 57-3-204 and may also hold a license to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on premises pursuant to title 57, chapter 4; provided, however, that each license must be operated as a separate and distinct business and shall not be at the same location.

 Reminds us of the shortest Beatles song, Her Majesty, from Abbey Road:

"I wanna tell her that I love her a lot,
but I gotta get a belly full of wine -
Her majesty's a pretty nice girl;
some day I'm gonna make her mine - oh yeah."

We see WIGS as a first step toward removing unnecessary government restrictions from the liquor industry.  We encourage liquor entrepreneurs to exploit the changes for better business and profits..

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