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Our View: Let grocers sell wine

In a carefully crafted bill, the Minnesota Grocers Association is trying to get Minnesota to allow the sale of wine in grocery stores in the seven-county Twin Cities metro area. Although the bill would not directly affect Duluth, it is an obvious...

In a carefully crafted bill, the Minnesota Grocers Association is trying to get Minnesota to allow the sale of wine in grocery stores in the seven-county Twin Cities metro area. Although the bill would not directly affect Duluth, it is an obvious first step toward statewide application, and could be amended at any time in the legislative process.
The bill makes sense for several reasons, not the least of which is that surveys show that a majority of Minnesotans want the added convenience of purchasing wine in grocery stores. Many Minnesotans have wine with their meals, and, unlike beer and hard liquor, they would like to select their wine while shopping for food.
While grocery stores can already sell 3.2 beer, the sale of strong beer and hard liquor would still be prohibited under the bill. In addition, the alcohol content would be limited to 15.5 percent -- the standard table wine and not those wines with a higher percentage preferred by those who simply want to become intoxicated.
To tie the bill even more closely to the grocery retailing industry, it would allow wine sales only in stores that occupy at least 10,000 square feet and that sell fresh, unfrozen meat and poultry, fresh fruit and vegetables. That effectively eliminates the sale by convenience stores and gas stations.
Of major concern is the access to alcohol of underage consumers. Under the bill, the days and hours of sale would be limited to the same regulations as those that govern liquor stores. They would also face the same penalties as liquor stores if they violate the law. The bill requires mandatory carding and compliance checks and a written theft prevention plan. During hours when wine sales are not allowed, either a physical barrier must be placed in the wine section, or the cash registers programmed using modern technology to prohibit the sale.
Thirty-three other states, including Wisconsin, Iowa and South Dakota, allow wine sales by grocery stores. This law would provide added convenience to consumers with little downside risk. The bill should be approved on a statewide basis.

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