Concerned citizens of Braintree, Massachusetts have banded together to stop Wine Nation Inc. from building a fine beverage superstore in their fair town. A website has been set up to support the opposition, which can be viewed here.
On the surface, I like the fact that people are taking this matter into their own hands and staging a mutiny of sorts to try and keep the mega store out of their town, but I find it difficult to get behind the cause.
Let’s get right to the bottom line: beyond all the fancy arguments made regarding this issue, this is fundamentally about protecting Bin Ends Wine, a much loved local Braintree wine shop run by COO Craig Drollett, who is equally loved as the guy behind Twitter Taste Live, which we love and have an article about in the upcoming issue of Mutineer Magazine. Drollett is a visionary in fine beverage retail, and his friends have taken a stand on his behalf to keep new competition out of Braintree.
The argument being made to the local Braintree government is as follows, “It is the contention of the petitioners that the application fails to meet the criteria set forth in MA General Laws chapter 138 Section 23 which states, ‘The provisions for the issue of licenses and permits hereunder…are enacted with a view only to serve the public need and in such a manner as to protect the common good and, to that end, to provide, in the opinion of the licensing authorities, an adequate number of places at which the public may obtain…. the different sorts of beverages for the sale of which provision is made.’
We submit that the proposed package store FULLFILLS NO UNMET PUBLIC NEED on behalf of the Town of Braintree and that the town is ADEQUATELY SERVED by the existing licensed packaged store establishments at this time in regards to proximity, competitive pricing, service and selection.”
As much as I’d like to jump on the bandwagon, and I still might, I see the arguments as a flawed attempt to help a friend out. If the town’s fine beverage needs are being met, then why will anyone go to this new store? Traffic is cited as a major reason why this new store shouldn’t be built, but if its arrival is going to create such a high amount of traffic, doesn’t that in itself mean that its arrival is justified in terms of need? Furthermore, according to blogger Dale Cruse of Drinks Are On Me, the store is going to “use a former Linens and Things building located at 160 Granite St. to house this package liquor “superstore.” So it’s not like forest is being clear cut to build a massive new store that will add to a city grid, but rather just replacing a business that was already there and having an affect on traffic and so forth.
The argument is also made that this new store will put “significant strain on town resources, particularly the police department, which will have to deal with the increase in enforcement issues as well as traffic mitigation.” Really? Apparently this town has no need for a large fine beverage shop, but it’s arrival will attract SO MANY customers that the police won’t be able to handle the traffic and “enforcement issues”, whatever that means.
Consumers typically oppose strict regulation of alcohol as it limits their buying opportunities, but now this same regulation is being used to hold back another business rather than relying on pure competition. Drollett and Bin Ends Wine have a reputation of being among the best in the business, and I’d love to see them take on this bigger store head on and beat them by being better rather than playing the regulation game.