the recession—things we’d never done
before, like mixed case discounts, solid
case discounts. Now, many of the things
we did in the early part of the recession
we’re pretty much stuck with. You’re not
going to be able to reverse any of these
major changes. If you took a big hit on
your margins, you’re probably just like
me—you’re not going to get that back.
Once the consumers got it, they’re very
astute, very educated, and we’re not go-
ing to get any of that back.
THE LEGISLATIVE FRONT
A Shifting Battleground,
Now More Than Ever
BAY RIDGEWINE & SPIRITS,
In Maryland, we’re facing a serious
chain store fight for the first time in
about 12 years. We’re gonna be all right
this year. Next year is an election year.
I think we’ll be all right. But the follow-
ing year is a whole new legislature. And
we’re going to have problems, because
we don’t know who’s going to get elect-
ed; there’s going to be a turnover. But
we have to work together.
Maryland’s a little unique. One store,
one license is all you’re allowed. Super-
markets, chain stores are not allowed.
But the whole industry nationwide, we’re
all under deregulation pressures. And be-
lieve me, the three-tier system—as many
times and as many problems as it may
have imposed on you—has saved every
one of us. And it is good for us. Alcohol
is not potato chips; it’s not tires. Alcohol
was mentioned twice in the Constitu-
tion. It’s a special and unique product. It
should be regulated within reason.
But what we have to do is watch out
for deregulation. I don’t know where y’all
come from politically. I’m pretty conser-
vative. I’m against all regulation except
in this industry. Be real. You’re indepen-
dent businessmen and this is what you
like to do. You don’t believe in regula-
tion, but I’ve been kept small by law, and
I benefited. I couldn’t have grown in the
environment I grew in if it hadn’t been for
these laws. We’ve got to work together
and keep our eyes open, but deregula-
tion is the enemy.
& BERNARDSVILLE, NJ
New Jersey is one of the regulated/de-
regulated states. We have two-license
limitation. We have a very active ABC.
For years I used to wish our ABC was
as easy-going as New York’s, and now
it has switched over. New York’s has
gotten very active and it seems like up
until recently our ABC has calmed down.
I believe the two-license limitation will
be attacked again and again. I’ve had a
couple end-of-year meetings with whole-
salers and they’re restructuring their di-
visions to go more chain-store oriented,
and they have a much stronger lobby
than we’ll ever have. So it’s my belief
that they know something we don’t.
ARGONAUT WINE & LIQUOR,
We face the same challenges that you
do: single-licenses, grocery stores.
We’ve fought it for five years since ’08
and defeated it every year. The first year
it happened, retailers were not a cohe-
sive group. We luckily saw it coming and
at the last minute swept in and saved
ourselves from a big defeat. But I think
now we’ve gotten much stronger.
We have an association, Coloradans
for Safe Sales. We focus on putting out
two messages. One is safety. You can
feel either way about safety, but it’s a
good argument that alcohol in the hands
of kids under 21—selling it and getting it
out the door—is a bad trend. Every state
has examples of bad things that happen
when minors handle alcohol. The other
one, which probably resonates more, is
job loss. Politicians are terrified of get-
ting the “job killer” label put on them.
They don’t want to be the ones. The
message to politicians in particular is
that you’re going to kill small business.
You can also affect political races.
Go out and meet these people, interact
with them regardless of what party as
long as they’re on your team. You can
affect races. We backed a dark horse in
a race in Colorado Springs and he came
in and beat our nemesis.
Need to be Allies,
Not Just Customers
TWIN LIQUORS FINEWINE & SPIRITS,
I think it’s really important that distribu-
tors continue to look at retailers as their
customers. All too often they forget that.
We are obviously their customers. We
can and should be their best friends.
They get pushed by their suppliers and
they need to be able to push back a
bit to recognize what may ultimately
be best for their business. I encourage
you to have those discussions with your
wholesalers, as it relates to legislative
matters and business matters in general.
Communication is real important in the
three-tier system and wholesalers need
to realize that we ultimately are their best
friends. Oftentimes the beer wholesalers
are under a lot of pressure, so they seem
to see that a little more easily than the
wine and spirits wholesalers.
“WE ARE SEEING AN
OF LOCALLY PRODUCED
WINE AND BEER