Registered voters in 80 Tennessee municipalities will vote Nov. 4 in referendums to allow the sale of wine in retail food stores, the Red White and Food campaign announced today.
"This is a tremendous accomplishment for the state's retail food stores and for their customers who want to be able to buy wine while shopping for groceries," said Susie Alcorn, Red White and Food campaign manager. "Our goal has always been to give Tennesseans the opportunity to vote on this issue, and now they will have that chance."
Red White and Food, its retail partners, and citizen volunteers collected a total of 262,247 signatures statewide on petitions authorizing the wine question to appear on the Nov. 4 ballot. The petition campaign began in mid-May, and the deadline for signature collection was Thursday, Aug. 21.
"Red White and Food would not have reached this important milestone without the support of our retail partners – including BI-LO, Food City, Food Lion, Kroger, Publix, Superlo Foods and Walmart," Ms. Alcorn added. "Their dedication to collecting signatures in-store made all the difference in the success of this campaign. We're grateful to the 262,247 Tennesseans who took the time to sign a petition and to the staffs of the state's local election commissions who were tasked with verifying the signatures."
Among the qualifying municipalities are Metropolitan Nashville Davidson County, Murfreesboro, the city of Memphis, Germantown, Jackson, the city of Chattanooga, Knoxville and unincorporated Knox County, and the Tri-Cities, including Bristol, Johnson City and Kingsport. (A complete list of qualifying municipalities appears at the end of this document.)
"The massive amount of signatures collected during this short campaign is a testament to consumers' desire to purchase wine where they shop for food," said Steve Smith, president and chief executive officer of K-VA-T Food Stores/Food City, and board chairman of Red White and Food. "Our customers have been telling us for years that they want the convenience of buying wine at the grocery store. They made their voices heard in phase one of the campaign, and I hope that they will take that passion to the voting booth on Election Day. We will soon be gearing up for phase two of the campaign and getting all of our supporters to the polls."
Early voting runs from Oct. 15 to Oct. 30, and Election Day is Nov. 4.
In the municipalities where the referendum is approved in November, retail food stores will be able to sell wine beginning July 1, 2016.
Governor Bill Haslam signed the wine in retail food stores bill into law on March 20, paving the way for the Nov. 4 referendum in qualifying municipalities. In order to be verified by the local election commissions, petitions from each qualifying municipality had to carry valid signatures equal to 10 percent of the residents who voted in the 2010 gubernatorial election.