⊕ Kroger starts ‘wine in grocery stores’ prep in UC

Grocer: Wine most requested items for many years; we want to be ready

UPPER CUMBERLAND – While it will still be several months – roughly 300 days – before wine can be sold in select Tennessee grocery stores, the nation’s largest supermarket chain has already started its preparations in the Upper Cumberland.

Kroger, which operates locations in both Cookeville and Crossville, is in the process of obtaining the appropriate licensure, and officials are filling out the required paperwork in each area of the state where wine sales were approved via a 2014 referendum. They say they plan to begin wine sales on schedule on July 1, 2016.

“Wine has been one of our most requested items for many years now, so no doubt our customers are anxiously awaiting this day,” Melissa Eads, Kroger spokesperson, told the UCBJ. “We want to make sure we have all the prep work done so that we are ready to sell a soon as July 2016 rolls around.”

In mid-August, City of Crossville officials issued a certificate of compliance for their local Kroger store. The certificate states that the applicant, Christine Wheatley, a Kroger corporate officer, has undergone a background check and has no felony conviction within the past 10 years, and the location, 265 Highland Square, complies with all zoning laws, in which Crossville has none.

Also in August, the Cookeville city council approved an ordinance that amends several parts of its municipal code to allow for grocery store wine sales; City Manager Mike Davidson said their certificate of compliance process would be approved internally. Kroger has also made its application here, and officials say the expect others, like Sam’s Club, to follow.

A 2014 state law allows for wine sales in grocery and convenience stores, but only in communities that permit liquor-by-the-drink, liquor stores or both; citizens also had to vote for the change. As for the UC, 65 percent of voters in Crossville and 67 percent in Cookeville OK’d that move last year.

Liz Engel is the editor of the Upper Cumberland Business Journal. She can be reached at liz@ucbjournal.com

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