Effective at 8 a.m. July 1, 459 licensed retail food stores across Tennessee may now lawfully sell wine to persons over 21 years old. The roll out of “wine in grocery stores,” also called WIGS, represents a milestone in the alcoholic beverage history of Tennessee.
The passage of the law marks the culmination of an enormous amount of hard work of Tennessee legislators, staff at the ABC and industry representatives, according to officials with the Tennessee Alcohol and Beverage Commission. “WIGS illustrates that with cooperation, hard work, and professionalism, the public and private sectors can work together towards a common objective to ensure the success of a dramatic change in the law,” said Commissioner Mary McDaniel.
“The ABC cooperated with corporate executives, small business owners, legislators, industry representatives and various state agencies to effectively implement a dramatic change in the law,” said McDaniel. “Commissioner Jones, Commissioner Kaegi and I commend all parties involved for this hard work. As a commission, we remain committed to fostering a business-friendly environment that enforces the state’s law in a responsible manner and in a spirit of fairness and equity.”
As of the morning of July 1, all applicants who submitted the necessary paperwork hold a license to begin selling wine. ABC agents completed 578 site inspections by the end of business on June 29, and staff had completed reviews of 578 applications.
“Throughout the lengthy application process, I was impressed with the employees at the TABC,” said Kenneth Osborne, owner of the Piggly Wiggly and Bi-Rite in Nashville. “They were happy to be helpful in explaining in detail every step that we needed to take and I was surprised at how efficiently they were able to process and issue licenses for the hundreds of applications received in such a short amount of time.”
Remaining applications, which were generally submitted in late May or mid-June, generally require proof of responsible vendor training for clerks and at least one designated manager before a license may be issued. Staff continues to consult with stores without a license to ensure all the requirements are completed.
Licensed retail food stores in the state are authorized to sell wine except when prohibited on Sunday and some holidays.
“We want to encourage…the industry to be diligent in fulfilling the detailed provisions of the new law,” said Clay Byrd, executive director.