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Package Store Owners Supporting Question 3 on the November Ballot

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Wine & Liquor and George's liquor store owner Jigar "Jay" Sinroza has been working to educate the community and other liquor store owners about the importance of passing Question 3 on the November ballot.
"Basically, this is going to be a compromise between the small stores and the big stores," he said last week.
"What Question 3 basically is is that it expands the number of beer and wine licenses from nine to 18 but it caps the total number of full liquor licenses that an individual can own from nine cutting down to seven."
Question 3 is one of four ballot questions voters will determine on election day, Nov. 8.
Placed on the ballot by petition, the proposed law would combine the total number of retail alcohol sale licenses statewide — beer and wine and all-alcohol — that an entity could have from nine to 12 beginning in 2023, and then an additional three in 2027 and 2031. At the same time, it would impose a maximum of seven all-alcohol licenses (exempting already held licenses). 
This aims to leave more room for the smaller, mom-and-pop liquor stores, said Sinroza.
It is estimated that there are more than 700 privately owned liquor stores in the state. Sinroza said there are a lot of stores that could be affected by big-box stores selling alcohol. Larger corporations can often offer a greater variety and lower price because they can buy more in bulk. 
The bill would also prohibit self-checkout of alcohol, make the fine for selling to a minor applicable to gross sales and not just the alcoholic beverages, and allow people to purchase alcohol with valid out-of-state identification cards.
Sinroza said these changes will allow for more employment, fairer penalties between large and small stores, and will help increase tourism by allowing people from out of town to purchase alcohol.
He said the Massachusetts Package Store Association spent money to put the question on the ballot after beating back Cumberland Farms and Total Wine corporations three times when they were pushing for unlimited liquor licenses.
Total Wine, a Maryland-based corporation with more than 200 stores and $5 billion in alcohol sales last year, has poured more than $2 million into advertising against Question 3, which is strongly supported by the Massachusetts Package Store Association.
The business owner said he has spoken to a number of other local liquor and package store owners about the ballot question and has been met with support.
"Every single one that I talked to, or who I know, support Question 3, we have been actually even telling our customers because not a lot of people knew that this was something that's on the ballot," he said.
 "I would say at least 95 percent of the people agreed to it and they said, yes, they’re going to vote yes on Question 3 because it's going to affect all the small businesses out there."
Gov. Charlie Baker said last week that Question 3 is the only ballot question he's voting yes on.
Sinroza said there is a lot of support for the question and if the big box stores were to come back harder and stronger after the passage of the question, the local store owners would keep fighting.

Tags: ballot measure,   election 2022,   

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Wreath Art Auction

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Wreath Art Auction is back in-person at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts on Friday, Dec. 2.
Dozens of local artists and members of the Springside Greenhouse Group have created original holiday wreaths, centerpieces and more. The preview party and sale begins at 5pm and the live auction will take place after the Park Square Holiday Tree Lighting at 6:30 pm. 
Tickets will be available at the door for a suggested donation of $10. Light food and beverages will be available.  100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of these original works of art will be donated to the South Congregational Church Food Pantry. The Wreath Art Auction has raised more than $30,000 over the years for the food pantry. 
The wreaths will be delivered and installed at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts on Thursday, Dec. 1 from 10am-2pm and previewed on the Cultural Pittsfield Facebook Page.  
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