Fairfield Stands ‘Arm & Arm’ with Local Business Owners

February 24, 2016

HARTFORD, State Capitol- State Sen. Tony Hwang (R-28th) and state Rep. Brenda Kupchick (R-132nd) today met with Fairfield area liquor store owners from Mo’s Wine & Spirit and Harry’s Wine and Liquor Market who submitted testimony in opposition to a bill that would harm their viability to maintain their business in a highly regulated alcohol industry.

Former State Senator John McKinney along with the small business/liquor store owners drove to the State Capitol today to protest the Governor Malloy’s move to change longstanding state liquor laws saying it will severely hurt their businesses and threaten their ability to survive.

Senate Bill 14, An Act Ensuring the Regional Competiveness of Connecticut’s Liquor Prices, includes provisions which would eliminate the minimum bottle price for liquor.

Currently, the minimum price a package store can charge for a bottle of alcohol is a wholesaler-established and posted “bottle price.” In Connecticut, this keeps alcohol prices at smaller “mom and pop” local stores in line with larger mega chain stores, who otherwise may be able to sell at wholesale discounts.

Sen. Hwang said, “Opposition to this ill-conceived bill is all about supporting our community based small businesses that are critical to local jobs and economic sustainability. The unproven premise of consumer benefit and added state revenue in the proposed legislative changes may be overstated and insufficient to risk irreparable damage to our community based small businesses. We also need to be cautious in our approach to alcohol sales and consumption as it is a controlled substance and increased use can cause unforeseen societal implications from abuse.”

“Connecticut’s liquor laws have been in place for generations and every small mom & pop followed those rules when they took a chance and invested their hard earned money and hard work to open a business,” said Rep. Kupchick, who testified against the proposal with former state senator, John McKinney.

The bill will give an advantage to big wholesalers, many who aren’t Connecticut based to prosper while smaller liquor store owners will be driven out creating more job loss. The people who own and operate the neighborhood stores are our neighbors, their children attend our schools, they’re involved in our communities, and they’re our friends.

Connecticut established a set of rules for liquor stores a long time ago and asked the small business owners to abide by those rules. It is simply unfair to change the rules to benefit a few.”

Hwang and Kupchick had learned directly from liquor store owners about the unique challenges of doing business in CTfrom many past Small Business Advisory Council meetings in Fairfield. They also talked about how the big box retailers will be able to absorb the associated costs the bill incurs due to their larger economy of scale; but unfortunately the small retailers do not have the financial resources to cover the costs spelled out in the bill could be forced to close.

According to the Fairfield store owners Mark and Maureen Abrahamson, of Mo’s Wine & Spirit and Patrick Monteleone of Harry’s Wine and Liquor Market, they are under attack by the Governor’s proposals and the ultimate outcome will be the big wholesalers will be able to prosper while smaller liquor stores will be driven out of business and forced to close their doors resulting in a loss of job opportunities and reduced revenues throughout towns across the state. It will also reduce the options available to residents.

In 2011, both Rep. Kupchick and Sen. Hwang opposed Governor Malloy’s 20% tax hike on alcohol which made our state’s liquor stores less competitive with other surrounding states. The 20% tax increase was part of the largest tax hike in our state’s history, which has yet to solve Connecticut’s budget woes.