More Outside Wine May Flow Into Mississippi - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

05/16/05

More Outside Wine May Flow Into Mississippi

Wine is big business at package stores. It makes up 50 to 60% of sales. But with the U.S. Supreme Court lifting a ban on direct outside sales to consumers, package store owners wonder if their wine profits will dry up.

Owner Mike Mensi says, "It could not affect us at all or it could be a whole devastation to the industry."

Mississippi is one of 24 states that does not allow out of state Internet or phone wine orders. Package store owners get their inventory from the state and Mensi says they like it that way.

"It provides us with a lot of specialty wines that we normally couldn't get. It gives us kind of an economic footing with everybody because we do pay the same."

Business owners understand the convenience of ordering online from the comfort of home. But Biloxi store owner Shawn Guider says over the years the selection has greatly improved, giving wine lovers more choices.

"The hottest new thing right now is the South African wines. They're gaining on the Australian wines. And we have New Zealand wines, they're coming along nicely. So we have a nice large selection."

At stake is $8 million a year in taxes from wine sales. With that in mind, the tax commission says Mississippi law regarding out-of-state Internet wine sales needs to be changed.

The commission says lawmakers need to either stop in-state wineries from shipping directly to customers or allow the out of state sales.

byMarcia Hill

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