The governor's budget proposal to give 19,000 chain stores, gas stations, pharmacies and grocers the ability to sell wine was defeated. This is good news for the citizens of New York, as states that allow unfettered access to wine have drinking and driving fatality rates that are double that of our State's. All of us are better off as a result of this outcome, but without your help in signing petitions, sending letters and making phone calls to Albany, surely the independent retailers would have lost this fight. So, I write to you today to express my thanks for your enthusiastic and active support.

Defeating this budget bill was a business life or death battle for the 2,700 independent wine and spirit retailers and the 225 east end and upstate wineries in the State. At the risk of tooting my industry's horn, the store owners deserved to win because we have an admirable record of not selling our products to minors, we employ thousands of people, and we offer our customers a wide range of products that the big box stores would not carry.

The wineries, which have grown in number from a mere 25 in the 1970s, are now an important component of our State's agricultural strength and a tremendous source of tourism spending here on Long Island. Growing grapes and making wine is a hard life for the small, independent wineries. They also didn't deserve to get done in by the heretofore unstoppable march of big box stores.

So, it is with heartfelt gratitude that I thank all of you who signed our petition and contacted the Governor and our representatives to voice your opposition to this proposal. I also want to thank Senator Johnson and Assemblywoman Schimel for supporting us in this difficult battle. To me, it seemed almost remarkable and certainly faith restoring that the small businessperson's voice was heard above the din of the big box executives and lobbyists.

The State has difficult economic times ahead, so I'm sure that I will come, hat in hand, and ask for your help again. However, this time, because of your support, all of us at Young's can get back to work responsibly serving you and the community. On behalf of everyone at the store, my family and I thank you for your help and support.

Ed Wassmer

Young's Fine Wines & Spirits

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