In May 2023, New York state senator Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) and assembly member Pamela Hunter (D-Syracuse) introduced bills S.6786 and A.6989, which would permit wine sales in grocery stores. This has caused a stir among many small liquor stores in the area who are worried about losing business.
Michael Correra, a Brooklyn store owner and executive director of the Metropolitan Package Store Association, representing 3,500 New York package store retailers, has been opposing these bills and others like it for years. He says it is only in the best interests of billionaire-backed supermarkets rather than small business liquor stores that are majority run by third generation immigrant families.
“There are many small liquor stores in shopping plazas right now with supermarkets next door. If a customer does their grocery shopping there and sees wine displayed, they’ll buy it from the conglomerate instead of the independent store,” Correra explains.
A similar bill was passed in Colorado in March 2023, and Fox 31 reports that many small liquor stores are already feeling the harsh effects. Even distributors who sell to stores within the state are seeing this negatively impact their bottom lines.
“There’s already more than enough wine and liquor stores out there,” notes Correra. “There’s no reason to add hundreds of extra stores into the mix that will only put independent liquor and wine stores out of business. It’s the last thing we need.”
The proposed legislation in NY could expand wine purchases to 1,900 grocery store locations and doesn’t include convenience or big box stores like Walmart or Target.
Small Businesses Are Vital
Independent shops are extremely important to the local economy and Correra has been seeing the positive impact they have on consumers his whole life.
“I’m involved in my local Brooklyn neighborhood — all of the small business owners are,” he says. “”We’re outside sweeping the sidewalks. I’m not going to serve an underage kid because I know his parents. There’s a culture where everyone knows each other.”
Correra explains that many small businesses also donate to baseball little league teams because they know so many locals. You don’t have that same sense of community with large supermarkets. So not only will this legislation cause many independent stores to close their doors, but that sense of community will be lost.
“The beauty of NY is that the legislators are in these communities, so they see what happens on a daily basis,” Correra says. “What we have already is working well. Let’s not let corporate greed interfere.”
To help prevent this legislation from passing, Correra is constantly speaking with NY legislators and bringing up his concerns. Luckily, the legislators agree that this will not be good for the local communities.
“We have a lot of great conversations with legislators about this and we hope to continue to do so,” says Correra. “They’re very concerned about their communities and agree that there is no reason to expand wine sales to supermarkets.”
As with any legislation, there’s always a chance of it getting passed. Correra has been fighting bills similar to this year after year — and the battle never stops. That’s why it’s so important to keep the conversation flowing with legislators and others in power to let them know the impact these types of bills can have on the local community.
“NY has always been a state where people can come, roll up their sleeves, open a business and make a go of it,” Correra explains. “There are many people like me who’s families came and started something. What we are once again going up against is corporate greed. When is it going to stop?”