Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Mercantile Opens Doors for Small Businesses

Concurrent with The Mercantile's six month anniversary in business, the Candler Park shop is finally popping open the Pinot Noir in celebration of their winning battle. On Monday, March 16th, the Atlanta City Council passed an ordinance that puts specialty food shops, such as the Mercantile, into a special classification of their own so they may acquire a liquor license allowing them to sell wine and beer regardless of a shops proximity to a package store that sells alcohol.

Shop owners, Janea Boyles and Samantha Enzmann, will eternally be known as "that shop" that opened doors of opportunity for fellow and future business owners of Atlanta. Boyles and Enzmann are credited for leading the charge regarding this new addition to the city's ordinances for alcohol licensing. A year long battle consisting of meetings, petitions, community campaigning and good old fashion banding together with other metro Atlanta specialty shop owners sparked the win.

The legislation was authored and sponsored by City Council woman Natalyn Archibong. It was approximately 11 months from the date the legislation was introduced to the date it finally passed. Boyles added, "I sensed that our city council members understood the urgency we small businesses were experiencing and wanted to move forward. I am so grateful to our city
leaders for working so hard on this effort on behalf of small business."

What does this legislation do for small business?
· This is a great step for small business in Atlanta. There were already definitions in the current ordinances allowing larger businesses exceptions but now, the smaller neighborhood shops have the chance to profit and thrive
· The ordinance paved the way to make it easier for specialty shops to open doors in Atlanta. This causes a domino effect - more shops can open in more neighborhoods increasing walkability and improving quality of city life
· Also granted, an allowance for specialty food shops to legally hold wine tastings alongside the specialty wine shops that already enjoyed that privilege in Atlanta. Wine tastings are a crucial part of the fine food and beverage industry and now Atlanta can be entered into the ranks along side other cosmopolitan cities.
· Why is the simple ability to sell wine and beer such a big deal? In the food and beverage industry, alcohol sales of any kind hold the highest profit margin and provide businesses with a revenue stream that profitability is based upon. Additionally, the profit margin on any food and grocery sale is traditionally low and narrow. It is next to impossible to be in the food business without a wine and beer component.


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