Cuomo: WIGS Out

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo hasn’t included selling wine in grocery stores (known as WIGS) in either of his two budgets and now we know why: He thinks it’s bad for small businesses.

“I think it would be disruptive to many stores, mom-and-pop shops,” he said. “I don’t think the benefit outweighs the cost.”

It was Cuomo’s first explanation of why he doesn’t support letting supermarkets sell wine, which is legal in many states. He indicated briefly last year he didn’t support it.

Under former Gov. David Paterson, the issue was a prominent one during budget fights in 2009 and 2010 — with the state estimating revenue of about $300 million through the sale of liquor licenses to grocery stores.

It was also one of the most expensive lobbying efforts at the Capitol — with supermarkets pushing for the law and liquor stores fighting it. Wegmans spent more than $3 million in 2009 and 2010 to push for the bill’s passage, but it didn’t happen.

New York is the third largest producer of wine in the country and it is a burgeoning industry. Some wineries had supported the legislation, while others opposed it, fearing that supermarkets wouldn’t promote New York-made wines.

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7 Comments

  1. I don’t know what his REAL reason for excluding WIGS IS, BUT Governor Cuomo’s explanation is nonsense. The same reasoning would extinguish human progress.

    How many mom and pop stores went out of business with the advent of the supermarket? It is true that many failed. It is equally true that supermarkets created more employment opportunities (and tax revenue, too) as consumers responded to the increased convenience and selection.

    Such mom and pop stores as survived stayed in business by specializing or otherwise offering services the supermarket could not or chose not to.

    Further, it is outside of the proper function of government to pick winners and losers in the market place. Wine and liquor stores should be able to compete selling any legal product they choose; so, too, the grocery and convenience store. Each will succeed on its own merits.

    A monopoly can only exist by legislative favor. It is time to get government out of the alcohol business.

  2. Fran, your shared ignorance is thankfully minority view. These stores have not been able to “sell anything they choose” for nearly a century. You are right the laws need to change but give large competetors a 100 year headstart on product diversity at the expense of small businesses is not the solution. Allow wine/liquor store owners to sell companion products and hold more than one license and allow them to succeed on thier own merits. But dont play partisan politics with 1000’s of families livelyhoods

  3. NY wines would be perfect for supermarkets, as the wino can then buy bread at the same time and sift the vino through it until they can stand the taste.

  4. Francesca,

    Your comments woefully lack context. Your reasoning in a vacuum is understandable, but within the context of real life and how former & current investments in small wine retail were made under the laws that exists, as were former and current investments in supermarkets To pull the proverbial carpet from beneath the feet of these shops (and some supermarkets) in a single legislative act would be government by nothing short of myopic and would cause hardship for many fellow New Yorkers. If the laws were to change, it would only be fair to begin the process in a very limited way and not implement any change until most current lease holders leases would have expired, as those leases were signed under the current law. Government should have a long term view and react in a knee jerk manor, the earliest any change in the law should take affect is 15 years out rolling slowly toward a 30 year period to be fully implemented. Does this make sense to you?