Store owner explains why he's the only grocer in Williamson Co. - WSMV Channel 4

Store owner explains why he's the only grocer in Williamson Co. that can't sell wine

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FRANKLIN, TN (WSMV) -

The sign says 'wine seller,' but you won't find any wine on the shelves of Grassland Foodland in Franklin.

The owner of this local grocery store says he's stuck between the law and a 'dry' place, and the predicament is threatening his store's existence. 

At least once a day a customer wanting wine walks into Grassland Foodland on Hillsboro Road in Franklin, and then they walk right back out, empty-handed. 

"As a business owner, that's heartbreaking," says owner Tony Collier.

It's not that Collier doesn't want to sell wine. In fact, the opposite is true. 

After the wine in grocery stores law passed back in 2015, Collier realized his geographical local makes his the only grocery store in Williamson Co. that can't legally sell it.

"Oh, it's like getting kicked in the gut," he says.

The problem is that Foodland is the only grocery store located in the county, not a city. 

Keep in mind, there aren't any liquor stores in the county either -- so while the grocery and liquor stores in Franklin, Nolensville, Brentwood, Thompson Station and Fairview can all sell wine, Foodland cant. 

"We are at a distinct competitive disadvantage because of that -- when every single one of my competitors is able to sell wine and I'm not," he explains.

Collier estimates he's missing out on about $5,000 in wine sale per week. 

He also worries daily about the long-term implications on his store. 

"We're a single-store operator and we employ probably 30 people whose livelihoods depend on us."

According to the Williamson Co. Election Commission, the county would first have to pass either liquor-by-the-drink or liquor package sales to then put wine-in-grocery-stores on their ballot. 

Meaning the earliest Foodland could sell wine would be 2020. 

"Convenience is huge in the grocery business, and if you've seen them somewhere else it's hard to get them back," Collier says. 

Now there is a bill that would ease restrictions for stores stuck in this exact situation. However, the Tennessee Groceries Association says it's unclear whether the legislature will pick it up next session. 

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