Ed Wassmer, owner of Young's Fine Wines & Spirits, where the conference was held, told the several dozen people gathered that the plan was a "devastating job-killing proposal" whose estimated revenue of $300 million is "great fiction."
"It certainly won't help Main Street, and it won't help the job situation in our state," said Wassmer, whose backdrop was a wall of wooden cubby holes stacked with wine bottles.
E. Christopher Murray, president of the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce, called the proposal a "horrible idea" that will jeopardize efforts to revitalize downtowns.
"If you put them [small liquor stores] out of business, it is just one more nail in the coffin of downtown businesses," he said.
The event was organized by the Last Store on Main Street Coalition, which said it was launching its final push of the budget season to keep wine out of supermarkets, grocery stores, delis and bodegas.
Some speakers also warned that selling wine in those venues would increase underage drinking because they would have easier access to alcohol they might be able to take through self-checkouts in some cases.
The governor has included the wine-sale expansion plan in his proposed 2010-11 budget. He projects the plan will generate $250 million in 2010-11 and $50 million in 2011-12. A similar proposal died last year.
The State Senate and Assembly both rejected the current proposal in their budget resolutions adopted late last month.
"During tough economic times . . . it is imperative that we in government pass laws that will help stimulate the growth of small businesses, not institute policies that will threaten their livelihood," Assemb. Michelle Schimel (D-Great Neck) told the group.
Joe Viscomi, the owner of Cappy's Warehouse Liquors in Valley Stream, which has 12 employees, said the proposal would kill his business.
"We would be willing to talk with them to come up with more money for the state," he said. That could even include higher taxes for store owners, he said.