ALBANY, N.Y. — Despite a sweeping campaign conducted by Wegmans, Price Chopper and other New York grocers interested in selling wine, a revenue-generating state budget proposal that would have allowed them to do so was abandoned by legislators here last week.
“We presented 80,000 consumer postcards [supporting the measure] collected in our stores to the governor, the speaker of the assembly and the majority leader,” Jim Rogers, president of the Food Industry Alliance of New York State here, told SN.
Close to 20,000 consumer emails voicing similar support reached state representatives, as did an unknown number of shopper phone calls.
“We thought the tide had turned,” said Rogers. “But then there was a very secret three-way conversation, the speaker of the assembly was not enthused at the prospect of wine at grocery, and the governor acquiesced.”
The setback is unique in that during the FIA's 10 years of lobbying for wine at grocery, such a measure had never before been included in the governor's budget. Another first is that it gained support from some liquor store owners.
“We were presenting a compromise that would allow liquor stores to sell any grocery item,” Rogers said.
But supporters of the measure “aren't folding up our tents just yet,” he said.
Observers believe the state will find itself in a deficit situation later this year. “They're going to have to go back and plug those gaps,” Rogers said.