Town readies for single liquor license auction

February 27, 2013 5:35:37 AM PST
Shoppers in south Jersey will soon be able to pick up a bottle of liquor along with their bread thanks to a recently approved alcohol ordinance.

Though it may be more convenient for consumers, not everyone is pleased with the new rule in Cherry Hill Township. Council cleared the way for supermarkets and big box stores to sell liquor.

Shoppers like the convenience. Liquor store owners believe this might put them out of business.

"Lifting that sight restriction paves the way for large size stores, whether that's a supermarket or a Target or Walmart or Trader Joe's, provided that they meet certain criteria," Bridget Palmer of Cherry Hill Township told Action News.

Among the requirements: The stores must purchase a liquor license; Must be at least 15,000 square feet; must dedicate space and a cash register for liquor sales specifically.

Shoppers are hoping their supermarket makes it happen for the convenience of one-stop shopping."

Shopper Jan Demirkan tells Action News, "I do like the idea. It's convenient."

Lisa Bakshas agrees. She tells us, "I do. I would have grabbed something."

But Vishnu Reddy whose family owns the Wine Legend store on Route 70 says the convenience of supermarket shopping will take away his customer base.

"Everybody shops at the grocery stores. We're going to lose those customers," Reddy said.

Wegman's, across the street, already skirted the old township requirement by building a stand-alone store. Reddy says it really hurt his business. The township council argues that competition is good. But Reddy says his small business can't compete with the big players in the supermarket business.

"When you have multimillion dollar supermarkets - it's not an even playing field, so that puts us at a disadvantage."

Township officials, however, disagree. "We're confident there's enough room for everyone," Palmer told Action News.

Don't expect to see wine in every supermarket in Cherry Hill Township. At the moment there is only one liquor license available. It goes up for auction at the end of March and anyone can bid for it.