Alcohol clampdown unfairly targets dairies, owners say

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

Ashok Darji, owner of Ash's Wine and Lotto superette on Kepa Rd, who will be affected by the new liquor reforms. Photo / Dean Purcell.
Ashok Darji, owner of Ash's Wine and Lotto superette on Kepa Rd, who will be affected by the new liquor reforms. Photo / Dean Purcell.

Dairy owners should have the same rights as supermarkets when it comes to selling alcohol, say shop owners angry with the Government's latest liquor law reforms.

Several changes announced yesterday included a law that will clarify that dairies and convenience stores cannot be off-licences, therefore cannot sell alcohol.

Ashok Darji, who owns Ash's Wine and Lotto Superette in Mission Bay, says the move unfairly targets and punishes dairies.

"It basically contradicts. People who want to get a lot of cheap alcohol will go to the supermarket. And a little superette - that's mostly a customer coming home from work and just wants to pick up a bottle of wine.

"It's not really our core business, but it's more a convenience thing. They're not coming here to buy a dozen beers, they're going to supermarkets, so why [punish] us?"

Mr Darji has been selling wine at his superette for more than 10 years.

He said during that time, he had never had any problems regarding his selling alcohol, and was upset that he - with many others around the country - would be punished.

Mr Darji, who is chairman for the law and order committee of the Auckland Indian Association, said a meeting next month with fellow retailers was being planned to oppose the Government's moves.

"We totally agree with the Government trying to get rid of this drinking culture and under-age drinking, but you're punishing the wrong people. It's just not fair."

The owner of the Williamson Ave Superette in Grey Lynn, Shantilal Prema, has had wine at his store for about four years.

He said the move to ban dairies selling wine was "totally stupid".

"It's something that will hit us. We get a bit of money from the sales. It's not right up there, but it's okay," Mr Prema said.

"They say they want to stop people from getting on the booze. But nobody buys bulk from a dairy. They go to supermarkets. It's just stupid. Why don't you take out the cigarettes Aren't those killing people too?"

Jay Masters, owner of the Victoria Ave Superette in Remuera, agreed that targeting small businesses was not on.

"If we're not allowed alcohol, then supermarkets shouldn't be allowed alcohol either. All it is is a big dairy."

Mr Masters said he only began selling alcohol for customer convenience.

"It's not a big money draw-in. We generally sell about five to seven bottles a day, and you want to close us down for five bottles a day?

"Customers just kept asking, 'Oh you should sell wine and stuff', and that's what we did. It's not hurting anyone."

- NZ Herald

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