Wine Wholesalers Whine…Again

The wine wholesalers in Michigan are concerned. VERY VERY concerned. 

According to the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association as presented in a breathless editorial in The Detroit News, “It’s estimated that…more than 730,000 bottles of wine, were illegally shipped into the state” in 2019.”

Of course, we can’t verify this claim as the data they base it upon is not published by the wholesalers. No matter. According to this association of box carriers, this profoundly important discovery “robs Michigan of much-needed tax revenue and hurts mom and pop retailers who need support now more than ever.”

Let’s assume for a moment that in fact, the claim is true. It leads to this question: Just how bad a job are the Michigan wine wholesalers doing in providing the state’s retailers with a diverse inventory of wines to sell if Michigan consumers had to look out of state to find 730,000 wines unavailable to them locally? I mean, it’s worth remembering that if in fact 730,000 bottles of wine were shipped to Michigan consumers in 2019, those wines were not shipped in an unsolicited fashion. Rather it was Michigan consumers, clearly unsatisfied with the paltry selection of wines Michigan wholesalers import into the state for distribution, that requested the wines be shipped to them.

The real story behind this breathless editorial created by Michigan wholesalers is that Michigan wholesalers are unable to satisfy Michigan consumers by providing them with the products they want.

This may be the case because the wholesalers are simply piss poor at their job. It may be the case that Michigan wholesalers don’t give a darn about the Michigan wine consumers. It might be that the regulatory system under which Michigan wholesalers are granted a monopoly on how wine is distributed to Michigan retailers is an archaic relic of a time gone by that is incapable of providing a successful framework that satisfies the demands of a modern wine marketplace.

It’s hard to say if its a matter of incompetence or alcohol regulatory laws that simply don’t work.

What I do know, however, is that if it is true that 730,000 bottles of wine were “illegally” shipped into the state of Michigan in 2019, that represents more than $1.5 million dollars in sales tax revenue that the state of Michigan could have collected had it only passed a law that allowed Michigan consumers to legally receive wine shipments from out-of-state wine retailers in the same way Michigan law currently allows consumers there to receive wine shipments from out-of-state wineries.

Why hasn’t this legislation been passed? Why are Michigan wine lovers still at the mercy of the piss poor selection of wines distributed by the Michigan wine wholesalers?

From 2017 to 2020, Michigan beer and wine wholesalers paid Michigan state lawmakers $1.7 million dollars in campaign contributions. So, Michigan wine wholesalers pay Michigan lawmakers $1.7 million to listen to their concerns, then go on to tell Michigan lawmakers to maintain a ban on wine shipments into the state, then complain and whine that Michigan consumers are willing to look outside the state to find the wines they want.

Brilliant.

In the end, no Michigan wine consumers care about the Michigan wholesalers’ complaints that Michigan consumers so hate the wholesalers’ selection of wines they choose to distribute that they are willing to pay expensive shipping costs just to get the wines they want. No one likes whiners. 

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3 Responses

  1. Ken Schultz - April 2, 2021

    As a small, less than 5000 css, than does a thriving online business to consumers in 37 states at this time, let me assure you we are totally licensed by each state to do so and submit 37 excise tax returns each month to each state. Taxing the shipper assures that these states don’t miss out on any revenue. We also utilize 8 out of state distributors and 4 instate distributors because we recognize the fact that we will always need truck drivers

  2. Tom wRk - April 2, 2021

    Ken,

    Of course you comply with the shipping laws. It’s common among shippers and good practice. If states want more tax revenue, they should authorize more entities to ship and remit taxes.

  3. Don Haberek - April 2, 2021

    Thanks for the post. “Illegal” is thrown around like “unconstitutional.”


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