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Liquor stores aren't alone in opposition to wine in grocery stores

State Sen. Betty Little has been a staunch opponent of any legislation allowing wine sales in grocery stores. Earlier this year, she opposed the bill, which was included in Gov. David Paterson's 2009-10 executive budget proposal.

Dan Mac Entee is director of communications for Little. He said Little's main concern is liquor stores going out of business across New York.

"They wouldn't be able to compete with larger convenience and grocery stores that are not constrained by the same laws and regulations that apply to liquor stores," Mac Entee said.

Eckardt belongs to a statewide coalition called "Last Store on Main Street." The group consists of small business advocates, wine store owners and distributors. The message the group hopes to send to Paterson is simple: Stop trying to legalize the sale of wine in large-scale grocery stores.

First and foremost, the coalition said, the legislation would force over 1,000 small businesses to close; that translates to the loss of 4,000 New York jobs, according to data on the group's website.

The site notes that wine sales account for between 60 and 80 percent of all sales at liquor stores. Eckhardt estimated wine accounts for about 60 to 70 percent of total sales at Adirondack Wine & Liquor.

"It would be a major hit to business," he said.

The other concern is underage drinking. According to Last Store on Main Street, offering wine in grocery stores offer greater access to alcohol for minors.

Eckhardt agreed.

"A good thing is all the State Police were against the other bills; the sheriff's departments, Mother Against Drunk Driving. It would just make it more accessible to kids, having wine in grocery stores," he said. "Whereas in a store like ours, everything is more controlled."

Eckhardt also noted that most area liquor stores are active in the community as well.

"A lot of us donate goods to events hosted by Pendragon or the Humane Society," he said. "I doubt the bigger retailers would do that."

As the state continues to look for ways to close multi-billion-dollar budget deficits in the coming years, Eckhardt said liquor store owners won't let their livelihoods be sold on grocery shelves.

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