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QUINCY and WEST BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- Supermarket operators in Massachusetts have raised $2.8 million to fund a campaign for licenses to sell wine in the state. Ahold-owned Stop & Shop has reportedly contributed a little over $1 million, while Shaw's has given $548,000.
The measure is scheduled to be voted on in November.
The Boston Globe quoted a spokesman for the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance as saying that the Stop & Shop contribution was the biggest single contribution recently to a ballot campaign.
Hannaford Bros., Price Chopper, Big Y, DeMoulas Super Markets, Roche Bros., Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods have also donated to the cause, along with the Food Marketing Institute and Cheshire, Conn.-based food wholesaler Bozzuto's.
Independent liquor stores -- better known in the state as package stores -- liquor wholesalers, and beer distributors oppose the measure. Opponents have so far raised $857,000 in a counter campaign.
The opposing sides are expected to step up their respective campaigns following the Sept. 19 primary.
Supermarkets argue that permitting them to carry wine would make it easier for shoppers, and create more competition for Massachusetts' approximately 2,500 package stores. A study requested by the Massachusetts Food Association found that passage of the measure would mean savings of $26 million to $36 million for the state’s shoppers, say supporters of the measure.
Package stores counter that enough competition already exists, and that more wine licenses would result in more underage drinking and drunk driving.
If the measure is passed, a "wine-at-food-store license" would be created, and each municipality would have the option of awarding five of them. Municipalities with over 5,000 residents could grant another license for each additional 5,000 residents. The licenses would then have to be approved by the state.
Under a state law from 1934, most Massachusetts grocery stores can't obtain wine licenses.