Posted on | September 12, 2012
Written by | Paul Santelle
As summer winds down, two-license battle heats up.
After our last meeting with the New Jersey Food Council it became crystal clear that we have little common ground to stand on wtih the likes of Wegman’s in the mix. The NJLSA has officially rejected the Majority Leader’s legislation (Assembly Bill A1325) and will be looking to introduce much-needed industry-sponsored legislation that will level the playing field based on the original intent of the state’s two-license limit law.
The fact is that Wegmans is driving the bus for the NJ Food Council and in spite of already having a competitive advantage over every other member of the food council, Wegmans now wants transparency for their seven liquor licenses operating alongside all seven of their New Jersey grocery stores. You would think that Wegmans would lay low now that they have something no other grocery chain in New Jersey has—namely a direct or indirect beneficial interest in a liquor license for every one of their food stores. However, the reason Wegmans wants transparency is more likely because they want other grocers to have what they have, so that Wegmans is not singled out for what they have already done in a questionable manner (which was circumvent our state’s two-license limit law). Regardless, Wegmans is here to stay, and true to form demonstrated in every state that they are operating in, they have consistently brought public controversy via their relentless crusade to use alcoholic beverages to subsidize their food model.
At what point in time does someone start to question Wegmans moral compass in their quest to use alcohol as a competitive wedge when entering a new market? Their strategy clearly compromises legitimate laws that were put in place for good reason when taking into consideration the entire marketplace we operate under—as opposed to the so-called “One Stop Shopping” model that Wegmans is manipulating.
It’s time for the other state-based members of the New Jersey Food Council to step up and question why they are allowing the “New Jersey” Food Council to be railroaded by the short-sightedness of Wegmans.
If the “One Stop Shopping” crusade were to succeed, it would only accelerate the inevitable shift of alcoholic beverage sales and food sales to the likes of the true mega box retailers and warehouse clubs. You have to wonder if our economy really needs another small-business incinerator?
Moving on to the business at hand, I can only say that we will have our hands full by the end of September with the two-license battle! Clearly, the NJLSA will be doing everything we can to protect and defend our industry and our livelihoods in the coming months.
We mailed out 1,500 Industry Alert packages to our licensees throughout the state at the end of August—if you did not receive one you should send me an email at PaulSantelle@NJLSA.com and I will make sure you get the package. We are planning several Industry Alert Meetings throughout the state that we urge you to attend to get a thorough understanding of what we all need to do to make sure that our Legislators and Governor know we need their support.
Your help is needed. You can help your industry by doing a variety of things that range from emailing and calling to meeting with your local legislators, perhaps with a small group of your fellow retailers. Both myself and NJLSA Executive Director Joe DeSanctis often take meetings with local legislators throughout the state along with local retailers, which is by far the most effective way to make sure your voice is properly heard. Our contact information is below, so please reach out to us if you would like us to accompany you to a meeting in your district.
If you are a retailer who cares about your business, the time has come to step up and support your industry by supporting the NJLSA. In addition to Retail Membership for off-premises licenses we are now offering Associate Memberships for industry affiliates who want to support our continued efforts. Please be sure to go to our website for more information on all of these opportunities to support your industry by supporting the NJLSA!