Florida lawmakers pass bill allowing liquor to be sold in grocery stores

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Since prohibition, it’s been known as “the liquor wall.” Wednesday, Florida lawmakers knocked it down.

The so-called “Wheaties and whiskey bill” passed in the Florida House by only one vote.

Small liquor distributors are likely concerned, because this bill puts their product in some big name retail stores.

Here’s the bottom line. Senate Bill 106 will give stores like Target, Walmart, “big, box stores,” the chance to place liquor next to anything, even boxes of children’s cereal.

After two days of debate, the bill officially moved through both houses, and now, to the governor’s desk.

In the near future, you may soon be walking down the aisle of your grocery store and stumble across vodka, bourbon or tequila.

The vote was tight.

During Wednesday’s debate, Florida representative Wengay Newton stood up against this change.

“I think we should do our due diligence to the people that’s watching and the people in this chamber. As parents, not let the kids get the liquor that we have in our own homes.”

8 On Your Side went to ask folks on Tampa’s Riverwalk “would you be offended to see Wheaties cereal next to whiskey?”

“No, I wouldn’t be. I mean, what’s the difference from going next door and getting it at a liquor store?” asked Jesse Heyder.

“I think that if it’s near the Wheaties, it’s probably poorly placed,” said Steve, who is visiting from Dallas.

Steve’s opinion got us thinking, exactly how important is product placement?

We turned to Evoke Strategy of Tampa for insight.

“Oh Jenn, product placement is essential. Especially if you’re a new brand trying to enter the market. It can make or break your barriers to entry,” said Devon Vocke.

It’s more than likely that hard liquor won’t be in the cereal aisle. We should soon find it in the beer and wine section.

This law will likely have the most impact on independent liquor stores.  They would soon have to compete with big box retailers.

We tried stopping by several liquor stores Wednesday, but no one would talk to us on camera.

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