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  • Tuesday, March 09, 2021 2:31 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In total, more than 730,000 bottles of wine were illegally shipped into the state in 2019

    LANSING — Nearly one-third of every bottle of alcohol shipped into Michigan in 2019 was shipped illegally, according to data compiled by the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association (MB&WWA). In total, 2,233,880 bottles of alcohol were shipped into the state in 2019 and of those bottles, 734,365 were shipped illegally. Data collection for 2020 and 2021 have been slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Using data compiled from reports from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission and excise tax data from the state of Michigan, the MB&WWA found 484,101 bottles of alcohol were shipped into Michigan from October through December of 2019. Of those bottles, approximately 250,264 were shipped illegally.

    “This data adds to the growing mountain of evidence that some out-of-state retailers have no problem breaking state laws and ducking paying taxes at a time when our state needs every penny of tax revenue,” said Spencer Nevins, president of the MB&WWA. “Thankfully, Attorney General Dana Nessel and the Michigan Liquor Control Commission have stepped up enforcement and have caught several of these bad actors red-handed.”

    Last year, Nessel sued two companies, Vintners Collective LLC and Go to Gifts Inc., for illegally shipping alcohol to consumers in Michigan. In February, judges in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan entered consent agreements with both companies. Neither will be able to ship alcohol into Michigan unless they become eligible to get a license and must prevent their websites from accepting orders from Michigan. Both companies will also have to pay $10,000 each in fines.

    “Every bottle of alcohol illegally shipped into our state hurts mom-and-pop retailers that are proud to call Michigan home, pay taxes and give back to their communities,” Nevins said. “We encourage Attorney General Nessel and state regulators to continue cracking down on out-of-state retailers — like Vintners Collective and Go to Gifts — that have been brazenly thumbing their nose at state law for years.”

    In 2018, the MB&WWA began compiling data on illegal wine shipments flowing into Michigan. Data from two quarters of that year showed more than 1 million bottles of alcohol were shipped into Michigan in just six months and at least 300,000 of those bottles were shipped illegally by out-of-state retailers.

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  • Friday, February 12, 2021 4:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Two out of state retailers prohibited from shipping alcohol into Michigan, fined $10,000 each

    LANSING — The Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association today applauded Attorney General Dana Nessel and the Michigan Liquor Control Commission for their efforts to crack down on illegal alcohol shipments into Michigan.

    Last year, Nessel sued two companies, Vintners Collective LLC and Go to Gifts Inc., for illegally shipping alcohol to consumers in Michigan. This week, judges in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan entered consent agreements with both companies. Neither will be able to ship alcohol into Michigan unless they become eligible to get a license and must prevent their websites from accepting orders from Michigan. Both companies will also have to pay $10,000 each in fines.

    “The efforts by Attorney General Dana Nessel and the Michigan Liquor Control Commission send a strong message to other out-of-state retailers who are illegally shipping alcohol into our state: You will be caught, and you will be prosecuted,” said MB&WWA President Spencer Nevins. “We urge the attorney general’s office and MLCC to continue to pursue and punish these bad actors to the fullest extent of the law.”

    In 2018, the MB&WWA began compiling reports to show how much alcohol was being shipped into Michigan, both legally and illegally.

    Using information from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission and excise tax data from the State of Michigan, the MB&WWA found during two quarters of 2018 more than 1 million bottles of alcohol were shipped into Michigan in just six months and at least 300,000 of those bottles were shipped illegally by out-of-state retailers.

    During the first three quarters of 2019 more than 1.5 million bottles of alcohol were shipped into Michigan. It’s estimated 484,101 bottles of wine were illegally shipped into the state during the same period. Data collection for 2020 has been slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “For years, out of state retailers have been thumbing their nose at state laws and brazenly shipping alcohol into Michigan, but those days are over,” Nevins said.

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  • Friday, February 12, 2021 8:41 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Beer distributors partner with National Beer Wholesalers Association on training to identify and report signs of human trafficking 

    Bay City, Mich. – Fabiano Brothers has partnered with the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) for an awareness training to educate employees on recognizing and reporting the warning signs of human trafficking. Fabiano Brother’s efforts are part of a nationwide campaign to help combat human trafficking in communities across the United States. 

    “As a local business, Fabiano Brothers is always looking for ways to make a difference in the communities we serve,” said James C. Fabiano II, President“Sadly, every community is vulnerable to the horrors of human trafficking, and our distribution areas are no exception. The employees of Fabiano Brothers, who visit thousands of licensed retail locations each week, are preparing to be an extra set of eyes and ears in the fight against human trafficking.” 

    Beer distributors collectively visit more than 640,000 retail establishments across the country, including bars, restaurants, hotels, convenience stores, package stores, sports arenas and grocery stores. They are uniquely positioned to combat this heinous crime given their access to locations at accounts often unseen by the public. 

    To help distributors understand human trafficking, identify the signs, and respond if they suspect this heinous crime is happening, NBWA partnered with Massachusetts Attorney General, Maura Healy, Utah Attorney General, Sean Reyes, and Executive Director of Street, Grace Camila Zolfaghari, to produce an awarness training video. 

    Approximately 500 Fabiano Brothers employees will have participated in the awareness training session, which has also become a part of the company’s onboarding process. Fabiano Brothers employees have also been equipped with contact information to alert authorities if they spot suspicious behaviors and tip cards containing red flag behaviors to carry with them as they visit accounts. Furthermore, Fabiano Brothers is making an effort to educate the general public about the signs of Human Trafficking and what to do when it is detected, with posters in retail establishments and decals on delivery trailers. 

    Human trafficking continues to be a major issue across the United States. According to a recent study, over 9,000 instances of human trafficking have been reported in Michigan and Wisconsin alone since 2007. 

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  • Monday, January 11, 2021 3:12 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Decision cements 2018 law that makes it illegal for bad actors to ship wine to Michigan consumers

    LANSING — The Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association (MB&WWA) today applauded a U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision to uphold a 2018 law that makes it illegal for out-of-state retailers to ship wine to consumers in Michigan.

    “We applaud the U.S. Supreme Court for upholding the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in the case of Lebamoff v. Michigan and for seeing through the baseless claims and misinformation peddled by plaintiffs in the case and the National Association of Wine Retailers,” said Spencer Nevins, president of the Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association. “By affirming the 6th Circuit, the Supreme Court has recognized state rights under the 21st Amendment and the need for alcoholic beverages to pass through in-state businesses to ensure public health and safety, and tax compliance. This decision also benefits in-state retailers, large or small, that are committed to and support their local communities.”

    Wine illegally shipped into Michigan has been a steadily increasing problem. Two years ago, the MB&WWA began compiling quarterly reports using information from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission and excise tax data from the State of Michigan to quantify how much alcohol is shipped into the state, both legally and illegally.

    During two quarters of 2018, more than 1 million bottles of alcohol were shipped into Michigan in just six months and at least 300,000 of those bottles were shipped illegally by out-of-state retailers. During the first three quarters of 2019, more than 1.5 million bottles of alcohol were shipped into Michigan. It’s estimated 484,101 bottles of wine were illegally shipped into the state during the same period.

    In September, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced federal lawsuits against two California companies that were repeatedly shipping wine and beer illegally into the state. The lawsuits were filed in the Eastern District of Michigan against Go to Gifts Inc. and Vintner’s Collective LLC. According to the attorney general, both companies were sent cease and desist letters but continued to ship wine and beer into Michigan illegally. Neither company is licensed to ship alcohol to consumers in Michigan.

    “With the Lebamoff case now in the rearview mirror and Michigan’s wine shipping laws upheld, our state can continue going after the bad actors who are snubbing their nose at state law and robbing Michigan of much-needed tax revenue at a time when it needs it most,” Nevins said. “We encourage Attorney General Nessel, and attorney generals from all states, to continue targeting these bad actors, wherever they are, and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.”

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  • Thursday, January 07, 2021 8:47 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Distributor has grown from a regional distributor to a Top 10 beer, wine and spirits wholesaler in the state

    KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Imperial Beverage is celebrating 20 years of supplying tens of thousands of retailers throughout the state with beer, wine and spirits made right here in Michigan, across the country and around the world.

    “I want to thank our employees, suppliers and retail partners — past and present — for their hard work, dedication and believing in what we represent at Imperial Beverage,” said Joe Cekola, president of Imperial Beverage. “Thanks to their support, over the last two decades we have grown from a regional distributor to a Top 10 distributor of beer, wine and spirits.”

    Joe Cekola Sr. and the Cekola family acquired Imperial Beverage in 1984, and the distributor has been a family run business ever since. His son, Joe, took the reins in 1994 and continues to run the company alongside his brother Larry.

    “Imperial Beverage has been a big part of our family and we treat our employees like family too,” Cekola said. “We’re proud to be a part of the communities we call home, employing people in Kalamazoo, Livonia, Traverse City and Ishpeming in good paying job with good benefits, and contributing to Michigan’s economy.”

    Prior to launching statewide in 2001, Imperial Beverage serviced seven counties in southwest Michigan. As the company added brands and grew its footprint it hired more people, bought more trucks and added warehouses in Livonia, Traverse City and Ishpeming — all while keeping its headquarters in Kalamazoo.

    “I’m honored to raise a glass to Imperial Beverage and the Cekola family and toast their success over the last 20 years,” said Kalamazoo Mayor David Anderson. “Imperial Beverage has been an important job creator in Kalamazoo and gives back to the community it calls home.”

    Imperial Beverage was first established in 1933 after the repeal of prohibition and now employs more than 300 people across its four locations. Imperial Beverage proudly provides statewide coverage that serves every Michigan county, every week, all year long.

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  • Thursday, December 31, 2020 8:44 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The closure of bars and restaurants due to COVID-19 doesn’t diminish the importance of not drinking and driving

    KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety (KDPS) and Imperial Beverage, a Kalamazoo-based beer, wine and spirits distributor are urging residents not to get behind the wheel if they have been drinking on New Year’s Eve.

    “While New Year’s Eve will look different, with bars and restaurants currently closed because of COVID-19 and fewer people hosting large gatherings, there’s one thing that doesn’t change: It’s never safe to get behind the wheel after you’ve been drinking,” said KDPS Chief Vernon Coakley. “KDPS will be on patrol monitoring our community, and we are encouraging residents to be responsible and stay safe. Don’t drink and drive.”

    According to the Michigan State Police, nearly 30% of all fatal car crashes that happened in Michigan last year involved alcohol.

    “At Imperial Beverage, we actively partner with schools, law enforcement and health professionals to promote the responsible use of alcohol, reduce drunken driving, binge drinking and underage drinking,” said Larry Cekola, CEO at Imperial Beverage. “We’re proud to stand with KDPS and urge Kalamazoo residents to call a friend, call a cab or order an Uber or Lyft if they have had too much to drink.”

    “There’s no doubt many of us are eager to bid farewell to 2020, but that’s not an excuse to drink irresponsibly or get behind the wheel after drinking,” said Joe Cekola, president of Imperial Beverage. “I’d like to thank the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety and its dedicated officers for everything they do to protect our community and keep our roads safe.”

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  • Wednesday, December 23, 2020 9:02 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Distributor and brewer donated food to Oak Park nonprofit Forgotten Harvest

    ORION, Mich. — Powers Distributing and Miller Lite announced today the distributor and brewer teamed up to donate food to Forgotten Harvest, which will help feed thousands of metro Detroit families this holiday season.

    “We’re proud to give back to the communities we call home and this donation to Forgotten Harvest is part of our effort to ensure no family in metro Detroit goes hungry this holiday season,” said Jeff Bright, director of marketing at Powers Distributing. “I want to thank Miller Lite for partnering with us to brighten the holidays for so many families.”

    Forgotten Harvest, an Oak Park, Mich. nonprofit, rescues food from grocery stores, markets, restaurants, distributors and caterers that would otherwise go to waste and delivers it to emergency food providers throughout metro Detroit.

    “I want to thank Powers Distributing and Miller Lite for this generous donation,” said Chris Ivey, Director of Marketing at Forgotten Harvest. “More and more metro Detroiters have relied on food banks and food providers this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and this donation will give families some peace of mind that they won’t go hungry this holiday season.”

    Many of the families served by Forgotten Harvest face food insecurity and struggle to cover the cost of basic life necessities, like food, clothing and shelter. Food donated to Forgotten Harvest helps bridge the income gap for tens of thousands of metro Detroiters.

    Powers Distributing, a locally owned, independent distributor located in Orion, serves retailers in Oakland and Macomb counties.

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  • Wednesday, December 23, 2020 8:57 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Wine and spirits distributor encourages Michiganders to support local retailers and restaurants

    DETROIT – Employees at Great Lakes Wine & Spirits (GLWAS) are putting in extra hours to ensure retailers are well-stocked ahead of small family gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The pandemic has led to more people drinking in the comfort and safety of their homes. Traditionally, the stretch between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve is the busiest stretch of the year for wine sales. But according to IRI, a data analytics and market research company, alcohol sales are up 21% at grocery stores and 17% at liquor stores compared to this time last year.

    “We are proud to do our part to provide a safe working environment for all of our employees so they can ensure retailers’ shelves are stocked with reds, whites and rosé so Michiganders can celebrate safely at small family gatherings this holiday season,” said Lew Cooper III, co-CEO at GLWAS. “From the front office and the warehouse, to our sales team and delivery drivers, the entire GLWAS team is committed to ensuring consumers’ favorite wines and champagnes are on store shelves.”

    Cooper is also encouraging Michiganders to support local restaurants and retailers this holiday season. GLWAS recently donated $21,000 to the Detroit Free Press’ Top 10 Cares, a fundraiser to help healthcare workers and Michigan’s struggling restaurant industry.

    “Over the last nine months we have tried to do our part to help restaurants across the state, including buying restaurant gift cards for employees and donating to restaurant industry relief efforts,” Cooper said. “We encourage those who have the means to get carryout from your favorite local restaurant one more time before the end of the year to help support local businesses and the people who work there.”

    As Michigan’s COVID-19 cases continue to surge, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recently extended its epidemic order. One of the recommendations made by the governor and public health officials was to keep holiday gatherings small, if they happen at all.

    “At GLWAS, our employees have taken the necessary steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 — including wearing masks, practicing social distancing and washing our hands frequently — so you can enjoy the holidays with your immediate family,” said Syd Ross, co-CEO of GLWAS. “Michigan’s wine distributors work hard to ensure retailers across the state have a wide variety of wines produced right here in Michigan, across the country and around the world. As Michiganders raise a glass to their loved ones virtually this holiday season, chances are they can all be drinking the same wine no matter how far apart they are thanks to a three-tier system that promotes fairness and a level playing field.”

    The Michigan wine industry and its nearly 150 wineries generate more than $5 billion for the state’s economy annually. Michigan currently ranks in the Top 10 for wine production and is the fourth-largest grape growing state in the country.

    Great Lakes Wine and Spirits employs more than 1,000 people and operates warehouses in Highland Park, Detroit, Gaylord, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Marquette, Saginaw and Traverse City. 


    Photo Courtesy GLWAS

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    Great Lakes Wine & Spirits is Michigan’s largest wine and liquor distributor. With more than 1,000 employees and facilities across the state, GLWAS services nearly 17,000 accounts in all 83 Michigan counties on both peninsulas. For more information, please visit www.GLWAS.com.

  • Monday, November 02, 2020 1:55 PM | Anonymous

    Brewery fined $2.6 million for forcing bars to sell ‘unreasonable’ amounts of its beers

    LANSING — A report Thursday in the BBC and other European news outlets on Dutch brewer Heineken’s efforts to force bars in the United Kingdom to exclusively sell its beers reinforces the importance of the three-tier system of alcohol distribution in Michigan and across the United States.

    “Our three-tier system for alcohol distribution ensures what Heineken did in the UK will never happen in America,” said Spencer Nevins, president of the Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association. “Michigan’s beer and wine distributors are proud to promote choice and competition by preventing large out-of-state and foreign companies from having a monopoly on the alcohol market.”

    Unlike America, many parts of Europe still allow some form of “tied-houses,” where a brewery owns hundreds of bars and can control what is served on tap.

    The bars involved in the year-long Heineken investigation wanted to break their exclusive tie with the brewer and offer other beers. Heineken’s pub arm, Star Pubs and Bars, instead doubled down, according to the report.

    “Star Pubs and Bars ‘seriously and repeatedly’ broke rules for three years,” according to the BBC. “[The investigation] found several pubs who had asked to no longer be tied to Heineken were told that 100% of the keg beer they sold had to be Heineken brands.”

    “Thanks to Michigan’s regulatory structure that prevents large multi-national alcohol suppliers from owning or controlling distributors and retailers our state is among the top 10 states in the number of breweries and wineries. Michigan is poised to keep growing through a three-tier system that promotes fairness and a level playing field,” Nevins said. “That’s why we call on the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to follow the lead of UK regulators and step up enforcement of Michigan’s regulations that prevent unscrupulous mega alcohol suppliers from unlawfully controlling and coercing distributors and retailers in order to block out competition in Michigan.”

    Nevins recently penned a column in the Detroit News outlining the importance of the three-tier system.

    “If you need evidence, look no further than the liquor section of your local grocery store. Michigan residents are greeted with a dizzying array of options of beer, wine and spirits produced right here in Michigan, across the country and around the world. For example, over 1,500 producers of beer compete on a daily basis for shelf space and tap handles in over 18,000 licensed accounts in Michigan. No other industry comes close to that level of competition,” Nevins wrote.

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  • Friday, October 09, 2020 9:04 AM | Anonymous

    Nessel files federal lawsuits against two California companies illegally shipping wine, beer to Michigan consumers

    LANSING – The Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association (MB&WWA) today applauded Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel for aggressively cracking down on illegal wine shipments coming into Michigan. On Wednesday, Nessel announced federal lawsuits against two California companies that were repeatedly shipping wine and beer illegally into the state.

    “Attorney General Nessel’s actions should send a clear message to out-of-state retailers that have been illegally shipping wine to consumers in Michigan: ‘You are breaking the law and you will get caught,’” said Spencer Nevins, MB&WWA president. “We urge the attorney general and the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to continue to pursue legal action against out-of-state retailers that have been shipping hundreds of thousands of bottles of wine into the state illegally for years.”

    The lawsuits were filed in the Eastern District of Michigan against Go to Gifts Inc. and Vintner’s Collective LLC. According to the attorney general, both companies were sent cease and desist letters but continued to ship wine and beer into Michigan illegally. Neither company is licensed to ship alcohol to consumers in Michigan.

    “These two companies were brazenly thumbing their noses at Michigan’s laws and robbing the state of much-needed tax revenue – and they aren’t the only ones,” Nevins said. “We hope these lawsuits will make out of-state-retailers that are knowingly breaking the law think twice before doing so in our state.”

    Two years ago, the MB&WWA began issuing quarterly reports — using information from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission and excise tax data from the State of Michigan — to show how much alcohol is shipped into the state.

    During two quarters of 2018, more than 1 million bottles of alcohol were shipped into Michigan in just six months and at least 300,000 of those bottles were shipped illegally by out-of-state retailers.

    During the first three quarters of 2019 more than 1.5 million bottles of alcohol were shipped into Michigan. It’s estimated 484,101 bottles of wine were illegally shipped into the state during the same period.

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