February 8 2017
Ft. Myers News-Press
Julie Gunlock and Celia Meyer
In the retail business, competition can be fierce.
And that’s precisely why ABC Fine Wine & Spirits CEO Charles Bailes is seeking to shield himself against competition by criticizing the very products his company has sold for three decades.
In his opinion piece in The News-Press and on news-press.com, Bailes wrongly suggests allowing the sale of liquor in grocery stores (a bill moving through the Florida Legislature) would be “unfair to parents, law enforcement, and all of our communities” because it would give minors access to liquor through stores where they are “free to roam and touch anything on the shelves unchecked.” This argument presents a rather grim view of parents by suggesting they are incapable of monitoring their own children or teaching them proper respect for the property of others and the law.
For someone in the liquor business, Bailes also seems confused about how alcohol affects the human body. His suggestion that spirits are fundamentally different — and more dangerous — than beer and wine is simply not true. With alcohol — any alcohol — it’s all about the dose. A standard serving of spirits, beer and wine contain the same amount of alcohol, and understanding this scientific fact is a critical aspect of responsible consumption.
There is simply no reason to believe that offering liquor, along with beer and wine, in grocery stores will lead to more dangerous behavior, such as underage drinking. In fact, researchers found after Washington state repealed its ban on selling spirits in grocery stores underage drinking rates have gone down.
Bailes scoffs at the idea that some shoppers would welcome the convenience of buying liquor at their grocery store. Busy moms — which research shows are the primary shoppers in 9 out of 10 households — would disagree.
Time-strapped moms don’t want to make several stops to fulfill their shopping list.
Moms prefer one-stop shopping. Just ask a mom who has to get the kids in and out of the car seats and into the stroller, or coral her toddlers while she shops. Moms want, and deserve, convenience.
It’s obvious why Bailes, who enjoys a monopoly on liquor sales, supports the status quo. It shields him from competition. If grocery stores start selling spirits alongside fresh produce, ground beef, tortilla chips and shampoo, fewer people will have to make an extra stop at the liquor store.
So, while we sympathize with Bailes’ desire to protect his business, the public should see through these claims about public health and encourage policymakers to give us the same convenience enjoyed by consumers throughout most of the country.