Posted on | January 1, 2012
Written by | Paul Santelle
Hard to believe that I am writing this article less than two weeks before Christmas while getting news that just ten days before Christmas our Legislature is making a Lame Duck push for Direct Shipping. Needless to say, if this deal goes down then basically everyone connected to our industry will walk away losers, including our own in-state wineries. The only winners will be the special interest lobbyists and the West Coast wineries who hired them.
If the Direct Shipping legislation passes, I will expect that our newspapers will spin it as a victory for free trade, but the irony laced in those headlines will be the destabilization of one of the most efficient alcohol industry marketplaces in our country. It is disturbing to think that in a state that has the highest property taxes in our nation, backed by the highest unemployment rate in our region, anyone would applaud the passage of legislation that would only lead to more of the same. Fortunately, we have a Governor who is working tirelessly to clean up our national image and political public relations. It is also possible that our Governor will have some serious reservations about signing this legislation, but it is too soon to know what he will do when this legislation is put in front of him.
Why? In the worst economy since the Great Depression, when state based small businesses are struggling to survive, why would any legislator STEP ON THEM? Why? At the most critical retailing time of the year, why would any legislator decide it is the time to push legislation that would clearly hurt small businesses that are a viable part of their local economies? Well, that is exactly what has happened with the Direct Shipping legislation and it is crystal clear that the new legislature will be pushing the Two-License challenge next!
After reacting to a Direct Shipping slap in the face for Christmas, it is likely that our Happy New Year’s gift from Trenton will involve turning the other cheek to defend against another slap, from a new Two-License challenge. Just imagine: Key members of our legislature have determined that the best way to help the City of Camden, which has the second highest serious crime rate in our country, is to use a liquor license as bait to lure a grocery store chain into that city.
In the end, the “One Stop Shopping” strategy that has been used by the NJ Food Council to support their two-license challenge will be used against them by the scorched-earth policy of the mega-box retailers like Walmart and Target that will stop at nothing now that Wegmans has flushed out some key leadership support in the new legislature. S1904 and A2591 will unquestionably hurt our state-based small business owners, which will lead to hundreds of statebased small business failures and longer unemployment lines, while dramatically increasing the accessibility of alcoholic beverages to thousands of teenagers that are employed in part time jobs at our grocery stores.
Don’t Sit Back
We will all have to do whatever we can to hold the line we have already drawn around the Statehouse, but that will require everyone in our industry to step up. If you care about the future of your business, now is the time to support the NJLSA. Your contributions will be needed to fight the upcoming Two-License challenge. I know that there are still many of you on the sidelines that feel that your voice and your money will not make a difference, but if you are not a member of the NJLSA, please fill out the application on the opposite page and send it in with your dues!
All of the Trustees as well as the Board of Directors of the NJLSA send our Best Wishes to all our members and friends for a Healthy and Happy New Year!!!