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Wine Sales Under Way In Tennessee Food Stores

Launching wine sales at a Tennessee Food City store, from left: Dan Glei, EVP of merchandising/marketing, Food City; Charlie Severance, former UT football standout, with wife Phyllis; and Emerson Breeden, Food City director of community relations.

July 1 marked the first day that licensed food stores in the state of Tennessee could sell wine in their stores.

Food retailers including Food City and Walmart had their shelves stocked and ready for customers on that day.

“For years, countless Tennesseans have sought the same opportunity afforded their Virginia and Georgia friends and neighbors, to purchase wine from their local supermarket,” said Steven C. Smith, president and CEO of Food City, which is based in Abingdon, Virginia. “For the past eight years, legislators and retailers across the state have worked diligently to bring their plea to fruition—and today, we celebrate that victory alongside our loyal customers.”

At 8 a.m. on July 1, 69 of Food City’s 84 Tennessee stores that were licensed to sell wine began their sales.

Smith helped spearhead the “Red White and Food” campaign launched by the Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association more than seven years ago, in support of a series of bills sponsored by Sen. Bill Ketron, Rep. Jon Lundberg and Knoxville Rep. Ryan Haynes.

Per Tennessee state law, wine sales are permitted from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with the exception of certain holidays.

Smith added, “I would like to thank our legislators, in particular Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey and Representative Jon Lundberg who led this effort, as well as my fellow retailers and the hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans who took the time to sign their local petition and cast their vote in the November elections to make this long-awaited day possible.”

Walmart said in mid-June that it had received 120 retail food store wine licenses from the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, so Walmart customers were able to purchase wine at 104 Walmart locations and 16 Sam’s Clubs in the state beginning July 1.

Walmart said it had “been busy building a full wine selection and stocking store shelves in preparation,” adding that it will carry popular labels such as Barefoot, Woodbridge, J. Lohr and Kendall-Jackson.

“Our customers tell us they are very excited for the one-stop convenience of purchasing wine at Walmart when they shop for groceries,” Anne Hatfield, Walmart spokesperson, said. “Walmart looks forward to helping our customers save time by not having to make a second stop somewhere else to purchase wine.”

In select Tennessee markets, customers also will be able to purchase wine with their groceries and have it delivered to their car through the Walmart Grocery Pickup service.

Walmart encourages customers to share any recommendations for wines they would like the Tennessee stores to carry.

The wine in retail food stores referendum passed in all of the 78 eligible locations where it appeared on the ballot in the November Tennessee elections. Among those municipalities were Chattanooga, Knoxville, Bristol, Johnson City and Kingsport.

For more details, see our Tennessee Market Profile in the August Shelby Report of the Southeast.


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