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Public hearing held on proposed bill to have wine sold in grocery stores

Supporters of House Bill 6101 say this will give consumers more options while others say this will negatively impact small businesses and the package industry.

HARTFORD, Conn — Two new proposals would expand alcoholic beverage options for consumers, but mom and pop package stores are fighting against one.

Four bills were heard in the Capitol today. One of those bills being discussed was House Bill 6101, which would provide Connecticut residents with more locations to buy liquor.

“We need that customer count to stay alive,” said Co-owner of Willowbrook Spirit Shoppe in Cromwell, Chris Cambareri. “Once the customer stays at the food store, and I have five within one mile of me, nobody needs me. Nobody needs me.”

His store sells beer, wine and liquor. Cambareri said allowing big stores to sell more options would take away from his business.

House Bill 6101 would allow grocery stores to expand their offerings to include wine and big box stores like Target to sell beer if they have a liquor license. Target in support of the bill gave prior written testimony. They stated:

“In many states, Target is a grocery store by definition, and it’s certainly that in practice for families both in Connecticut and elsewhere. 46 other states, including nearby New York and Massachusetts, allow target to sell alcoholic beverages alongside our great assortment of other products. Connecticut is an outlier in this situation.” - Isaac Reyes, Vice President of Government Affairs, of Target Corporation

Other supporters said the bill would give shoppers more options and allow for competition, leveling the playing field.

Dave Ackert owns the Maple Craft Foods company in Newtown. He spoke at the hearing Thursday. He said he would rather buy everything at one store as a shopper and as a business owner he sells his product at larger grocery stores, breweries, and wineries which allowed him to survive during the pandemic. He believes the bill allows Connecticut farms and vineyards to sell more of their products and grow, which will allow small business like his to grow.

“I hope that you will embrace what could be an extremely meaningful change for our state’s consumers and economy,” Ackert said. “There’s opportunity to grow the pie for everyone. So let’s do this.”

Another part of the bill would allow bars to sell drinks to go permanently. To-go cocktails were permitted by executive order last spring.

“No one’s been hit harder, to be honest, as a business, than our restaurants, and we’re kind of looking for an opportunity to generate another revenue stream beyond the emergency orders,” said Connecticut Restaurant Association Scott Dolch.

The bills are in the general law committee and if passed would go to the full general assembly for debate.


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