Supreme Court sides with local family in battle over Tennessee liquor law

Local Biz

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – A local family who has been challenging Tennessee’s liquor license law won after taking their fight all the way to the Supreme Court.

Doug and Mary Ketchum of Utah moved to Memphis nearly three years ago. They were told they could not run their liquor store because they hadn’t lived in Memphis long enough.

“We moved here to have a better opportunity for Stacie’s health and to take care of her the way we need to,” said Doug Ketchum of Kimbrough Wines & Spirits.

The Ketchums moved to Memphis from Utah after doctors told them their 34-year-old daughter Stacie needed better air quality to survive. Stacie is a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy and has severe respiratory problems.

The Ketchum’s moved to Memphis and bought Kimbrough Wines and Spirits in midtown Memphis so they’d have flexible hours to spend more time with Stacie.

The Ketchum’s soon found out they were facing an uphill battle. In order to get a liquor license, the couple needed to live in Memphis for two years and live in Tennessee for 10 years before being able to renew their license.

“Doug had to go find another job. We have all our attorney’s fees now. We have a whole bunch of stuff, so now we’re actually spending a lot less time with her than we were before,” Mary said.

Long-time local liquor store owners say the law has been in place for a reason, which is to protect mom and pop shops from outsiders. But the Ketchum’s say that’s not what this battle has been about.

Doug said, “We didn’t come into the state to try to take over any kind of control of the liquor business in the state or anything.”

The Ketchum’s took their case to the Supreme Court and won. The court voted 7 to 2, ruling it’s unconstitutional to require someone to live in Tennessee for two years to get a liquor license. Now the Ketchum’s can operate like every other local liquor store and renew their liquor license every year.

“We’re never going to get that time back with her and we don’t know how much time we have,” Mary said.

“I would hope that they took into account some of those types of humanistic things, that how these rulings affect people, cause you know it definitely has affected us,” said Doug.

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