Wine bottles are already lining the shelves in some Tennessee grocery stores — even though customers can't buy them yet.
July 1 is the first day that supermarkets are allowed to sell wine, and 279 stores in the state have received licenses to sell so far. More — nearly 400 — have gotten approval to start stocking.
At the Nashville Kroger on Rosa Parks Blvd., for example, almost half an aisle, five shelves tall, is fully stocked with wine. The only thing stopping customers from plucking down a bottle are big signs saying they can't.
This is not unusual, says spokeswoman Melissa Eads. Most Krogers in Middle Tennessee have made room for wine and stocked the shelves, and people are giving feedback.
"We're already seeing a lot of excited customers that are getting a chance to see what we're going to carry in their stores because it's already on the shelf," Eads says.
But about 100 Tennessee grocery stores that applied to sell wine have not gotten approved yet. According to the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission, some didn't turn in the right paperwork on time; others didn't meet the requirements — they have to be more than 1,200 square feet in size, and food must comprise at least 20 percent of their sales to be considered a grocery store.
Even supermarkets that have been approved will still have to follow the same hours as liquor stores. So they'll start selling wine on Friday, July 1 — but they'll soon have to take a two-day break, because they can't sell wine on Sunday or the Fourth of July.