Last year the governor took on Sunday liquor store sales. This year he's set his sights on lowering the price of alcohol at those stores - a decision that some local store owners said would be destructive to small businesses.
Liquor store owners in Cheshire have already started to band with others in the area to put a stop to the latest efforts to relax on alcohol restrictions in the state.
"(This proposal) is something that will leave those of us who don't buy as much bulk unable to compete," said Sharmishtel Patel, owner of South Main Liquors & Wine in Plantsville. "The bigger chains, the grocery stores will be able to buy quantities that allow for special sales and it's going to take our business away."
Among the legislation Gov. Dannel P. Malloy submitted this week is a proposal to eliminate the state's alcohol pricing laws for Connecticut liquor stores, which set minimum prices that increase the retail costs of that bottle of wine or cognac by as much as $9 in some cases, the Journal Inquirer reports.
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The state's law banning package store owners from setting prices below those established by their wholesalers is intended to protect smaller stores from the bulk-buying capabilities of large retailers. But the law also hurts consumers and the state because Connecticut residents either buy less alcohol or they go to the border states of New York, Rhode Island or Massachusetts, where booze prices are lower, the newspaper reports.
Getting rid of minimum pricing standards could bring another $1.5 million annually in sales tax revenues into state coffers because of increased sales in Connecticut, the JI reports.
Smaller retailers, however, are likely to oppose the change because of concerns that large retailers could set prices too low for them to compete.
“The Sunday issue is one thing, but there are some things in this bill that, if it goes through, will turn the whole state upside down,” said Matteo Fagin, wine manager at Southington Wine & Spirits on Queen Street, in a previous interview with Southington Patch. “There are some things here that could cause wholesalers to close and put lot of stress on the industry as a whole.”
By eliminating the minimum purchasing laws, Fagin said, he worries that only those stores that usually buy in bulk would be able to compete with the larger chains. In particular, both Fagin and Patel said they are already struggling to keep customers as stores like Stop & Shop and Price Chopper offer special sales and fear that would only get worse.
Both also expressed concerns that instead of gaining extra sales in central Connecticut, storeowners would face a challenge of either expending additional revenue to stay open and maintain their current sale levels spread out over several days or even worse, lose sales because they are unable to open on Sundays.
“This isn’t going to increase sales. That’s not a reality here,” Patel said. “What will happen is there will be a shift of when people buy and the current sales pattern will simply shift.”
Do you agree with the state's minimum pricing laws? Are you happy to see these laws potentially be eliminated? Share your thoughts below.
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