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Columns

March 16, 2009

My Turn: Governor has betrayed local business owners

This week's "My turn" column is by Sharon Wilsey, owner of Best Wine & Spirits, a liquor store in Oneonta.

I am the mother of Best Wine & Spirits. I use the term "mother," as I love and nurture my store and pray for its health and success, as a mother does for her children.

I opened my store in November 2007. It took seven months of time and energy, plus an enormous amount of stress and money.

I, like most liquor store owners, felt and still feel betrayed, enraged and victimized by Gov. David Paterson.

I have invested my life savings into my business. I knew I would be successful because I was willing to work extremely hard with small personal rewards, was knowledgeable about my business, had a great location and genuinely care about people. Imagine being betrayed by the government that licensed you.

I'd like to explain the controversy over Gov. Paterson's proposal to allow the sale of wine in grocery, drug and convenience stores.

Many people are under the assumption that it won't affect existing liquor stores because we can still sell wine, too, or that we might be able to sell beer and cigarettes.

Here's the problem. Liquor store owners are allowed one license only, for one location only. We are not chain stores, like most grocery, drug and convenience stores.

When you have one location only, and have invested your life in one location only, it is not "leveling the playing field." It is, simply put, being run over with a steamroller.

When we were given liquor licenses, it was with the exclusive right to sell wine and liquor. Obtaining a liquor license is a very expensive, time-consuming process. The application itself is very difficult and long; every detail is scrutinized.

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