Archive for Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New coalition pushing to relax Kansas liquor laws

January 26, 2011, 10:29 a.m. Updated January 26, 2011, 1:37 p.m.


On the street

Should full-strength alcoholic beverages be sold at grocery and convenience stores?

I don’t think so. In grocery stores there are people getting those beverages and there are also kids. I think the way it is now is good.

More responses

— A new coalition that includes chains such as Walmart, Hy-Vee and QuikTrip is pushing to change Kansas laws regulating where beer and hard liquor are sold in the state, but opponents are already gearing up to fight the effort.

Supporters of the proposed changes, called Coalition for Jobs and Consumer Choice, on Tuesday contended that a bill in the Kansas Senate that would allow grocery and convenience stores to sell full-strength alcoholic beverages would generate more than 12,000 new jobs, as well as $216 million in wages and $72 million in new taxes per year.

But an association of liquor stores immediately challenged those claims, saying the numbers are exaggerated and the bill's main goal is to move lucrative liquor sales from small businesses to the large chains.

Currently, grocery stores, convenience stores and gas stations in Kansas are allowed to sell only wine coolers and cereal-malt beverages, sometimes called "weak" or "3.2" beer and wine coolers. The bill introduced Tuesday would allow those stores to sell liquor and full-strength beer and wine. It also would allow liquor stores, which are limited to selling only alcoholic beverages, to begin selling other products such as food, gas or other items.

The state currently has 766 liquor stores, said Tom Gorneman, director of the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control Department.

Art Hall, director of the Center for Applied Economics at The University of Kansas, said a study he conducted for the coalition found that about 341 liquor stores would go out of business, and 1,154 jobs would be lost if other retailers could sell full-strength alcoholic beverages, The Wichita Eagle reported.

But he said those losses would be more than offset because the state would likely add 116 grocery stores, with 3,987 jobs. And another 449 new convenience stores would employee 9,349 people.

Spencer Duncan, representing the liquor-store alliance called Keep Kansans in Business, predicted that the bill would be rejected by the Legislature, which has turned back similar attempts on the past.

"Those who want to change Kansas liquor laws are primarily out-of-state entities focused on profit, not the Kansas economy or the safety of its citizens and its communities," said Duncan, who contended that pawn shops, adult gift stores and smoke shops would be able to sell wine, beer and spirits under the bill.

"This is not a tweak in the system," Duncan told The Topeka Capital-Journal. "This is a reckless and seismic shift in how Kansas views and handles retail alcohol sales."

The bill would freeze the number of liquor licenses allowed in the state for three years to allow liquor stores to adjust to the new competition. Grocery or convenience store operators who want to get in the business during those three years would most likely have to buy a license from a current store operator in the same county.

The Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee will conduct hearings on the bill Monday and Tuesday at the Capitol.


somedude20 7 years, 1 month ago

This is a start for taking away my K2

Fossick 7 years, 1 month ago

What the "association of liquor store owners" fails to mention is that liquor sales are only lucrative because they control the prices and availability. Open up the market and there's no reason selling beer will be any more lucrative than selling gasoline.

And I'm sure there are a few wineries in Kansas who would love to be able to sell their products at Dillons.

jackpot 7 years, 1 month ago

Who is "they control the prices". When I worked in a liquor store the State of Kansas set the prices. Both wholesale and retail.

Fossick 7 years, 1 month ago

My understanding was that as of 1979 prices are not controlled by the state, but minimum markups are still required by the ABC: Minimum markups by law are just one reason sales of liquor are lucrative. Hopefully it will be one of the first things to go.

Does the state really set the price, individually and statewide, for every one of the thousands of labels and vintages of wine available in a good liquor store?

Fossick 7 years, 1 month ago

Don't feel bad, I was out of date, too. Us old guys, you know...

timeforachange 7 years, 1 month ago

Fossick you are flat out wrong. "Association of liquor store owners" does NOT control prices or availability. They have to sell every item at least one penny over their cost. Other than that there are no price controls whatsoever. And Supply and Demand controls availability pure and simple. If there is a demand for a product, one of the suppliers will go get it.

Steve Bradt 7 years, 1 month ago

Actually, the retail liquor stores are not able to fix prices, they compete with one another. No individual or family is able to own more than two liquor stores so they are not able to fix prices by having a controlling interest in the liquor stores in any area with more than 2 stores.

Ricky_Vaughn 7 years, 1 month ago

Brownback supports big business! If Walmart starts selling full strength liquor you can forget about mom and pop making any money off liquor sales.

Create 1,200 jobs? What about all the liquor stores and the people who work at them?Where will they work when Walmart puts them out of business?

parrothead8 7 years, 1 month ago

"But he said those losses would be more than offset because the state would likely add 116 grocery stores, with 3,987 jobs. And another 449 new convenience stores would employee 9,349 people."

You must have missed that part.

But don't feel bad...the LJW eds must have missed the part about convenience stores "employeeing" people. Nobody's perfect.

purplesage 7 years, 1 month ago

Once again, we are asked to bow before the almighty dollar, using the suggestion of jobs and revenue to justify the spread of a dangerous and addictive substance and make it more readily available.

Quite obviously, I have no sympathy for the Wal-Marts and Dillon's, etc. who have an interest in this. But I have even less for an association of liquor store owners because of the blilght they are on our society. Just another form of dealin'.

Kirk Larson 7 years, 1 month ago

Great idea! Belly up to the bar at the DMV.

guesswho 7 years, 1 month ago

It makes no business sense to me why a liquor store cannot sell a lemon or a wine opener. Hy-Vees in other states (Iowa, I think) can sell wine that you can pair with an evening meal. Students will still get their kegs at a liquor store. Specialty wine stores will still cater to more finicky drinkers. Why is government so involved in this?

Marcus DeMond 7 years, 1 month ago

They do not want minors to have a reason being in the liquor store.

pace 7 years, 1 month ago

At least they are candid, not pretending to be house wifes and a grass roots organization like all those cause ads we got during the election. The bottling industry ads presented themselves as mothers worrying about the cost of soda pop for their children.

timeforachange 7 years, 1 month ago

Liquor prices, both retail and wholesale, are NO LONGER regulated by the State. By law every liquor product has to be sold above the cost at which it was bought by the distributor. Other than that all pricing is fair game. Pricing deregulation occurred in the late 80's. Up until then the State did set the pricing, but not anymore. There are not minimum markups either. If Walmart and such starts selling liquor you can kiss every retail liquor store goodbye.

Fossick 7 years, 1 month ago

"If Walmart and such starts selling liquor you can kiss every retail liquor store goodbye. "

I'm not sure why this would be the case. Missouri (to pick an example) has hard liquor at WalMart, and it's crawling with retail liquor stores. Berbiglia has 7 stores in KCMO and one or more elsewhere, proving that the rise of chains here is not impossible, either. I can see the market changing (prices dropping, more options), but I certainly don't think we're about to create one where Wal Mart and Dillon's are the only place to get beer.

Unless, of course, the state clamps down on the issuance of licenses. That will have a bigger effect on the final results than anything else, I suspect. Few licenses means only Wal Mart can afford them, and we're back to 'lucrative' again.

pace 7 years, 1 month ago

If they change the law it would be a perfect time to put a bottle bill in place. Container redemption reduces litter, makes recycling a lot more fun.

Dan Edwards 7 years, 1 month ago

All I am asking is to be able to pick up a bottle of wine at the grocery store, or be able to order wine from a winery to be shipped to me. I couldn't care less about hard alcohol remaining restricted to liquor stores, but wine? Come on.

Hell, a glass of wine a day is GOOD for you. Why there are so many restrictions on its sale in this state is beyond me.

I bet Trader Joes is in on this lobbying effort. As it stands now, their forthcoming store at Town Center in Leawood won't be stocking 2-buck Chuck whereas the Plaza store a stone's throw away will. Guess which one will be more popular?


pfunk81 7 years, 1 month ago

you can get wine shipped to you, I know a guy who does it.

Marcus DeMond 7 years, 1 month ago

I cannot wait for 2-buck Chuck at Ward Parkway Trader Joes!!!

notanota 7 years, 1 month ago

And they have proof this will somehow generate jobs and taxes? I'm at a loss as to how this would work. If people could already buy liquor at liquor stores, how is it that they're creating jobs by putting the same item at a grocery store? Aren't they just shifting sales from one store to another and ending the same number of jobs they're "creating," or is it going to increase overall liquor sales? Is that really a good thing?

gccs14r 7 years, 1 month ago

Maybe they can open up who can get a license, but still limit it to one license per owner. So Kroger could choose which one of its stores in Kansas can sell liquor, and so could Wal-Mart, but they couldn't gang up on all the mom-n-pop outfits to run them out of business. Otherwise I could see major retailers using booze as a cheap enticement, charging 1 cent over wholesale to gain market share, which would destroy all the smaller competitors who couldn't afford to follow suit.

Kirk Larson 7 years, 1 month ago

They want jobs and revenue? Let them sell, uh, medicinal, uh marijuana.

Mari Aubuchon 7 years, 1 month ago

I would really like to see the law regarding on-line liquor sales changed.

somedude20 7 years, 1 month ago

I would like to see Freestate run lines, much like our water lines, that bring their goodness to my house. Just turn on the tap and bam, Ad Astra!

dabbindan 7 years, 1 month ago

employment wise it's likely a wash, perhaps a reduction as many large stores will likely not have to hire more to handle the liquor traffic. tax wise, it's a loss as many small single purpose buildings will close and be lost to the tax rolls and the businesses in the big stores will use the space they have.

they are shifting the sales to large stores that already have an established profitable business that don't absolutely need the liquor business to survive. of course, this shift will close many small businesses dependent on a single range of items.

the consumer gains a convenience. seems like a poor reason to create a major dislocation in the trade.

ronwell_dobbs 7 years, 1 month ago

Keep in mind that it is the "keep the gubment's stinkin' hands off my " nutbag religious righties who are the main opposition to this change.

ronwell_dobbs 7 years, 1 month ago

interesting. Anything you put in the middle of the greater than or less than symbols get's stripped out. Should have read:

"keep the gubment's stinkin' hands off my {fill in the blanks}"

Fossick 7 years, 1 month ago

I suspect it's because the handy dandy html editor thinks you're trying to get clever.

That said, I think you'll find that the majority of opposition comes from those salespeople who don't want the competition, not from nutbag religious righties. After all, I thought it was a well known fact(tm) that there is no one but nutbag religious righties left in Topeka - not much sense in asking them for anything other than banning demon rum altogether.

tifosi 7 years, 1 month ago

Retailers must purchase wine, spirits and beer from the state in which they operate, from local wholesalers. It is the law, you can not transport these items across state lines unless you are a manufacturer delivering to wholesalers.

MyName 7 years, 1 month ago

This change wouldn't be that great, but probably not as bad as the people against the bill are making it. What I would like to see is a change in regulations regarding beer and wine from out of state. It's ridiculous that the few wineries in Kansas aren't allowed to export directly out of state, and ditto for people who want to get beer or wine directly from California or someplace else. If Kansas businesses want to sell out of state without having to go through a wholesale chain, they should be able to.

parrothead8 7 years, 1 month ago

It's interesting that it would take 12,000 people working at Wal-Marts, grocery stores, and convenience stores to do what only 1,200 liquor store employees are currently able to accomplish. Does this mean that people who work in liquor stores are ten times more productive than their counterparts at Wal-Mart?

skinny 7 years, 1 month ago

Kansas is way behind the times. Pass the law and let Wal-Mart and the Grocery stores sell what they want. This is a free country isn't it? Every state around us sells liquor at the grocery store it's time for Kansas to move forward! NOW!

Steve Bradt 7 years, 1 month ago

True for Nebraska and Missouri but not for Colorado and Oklahoma

Evan Ridenour 7 years, 1 month ago

The law on wine shipments was changed in 2009, it went into effect on July 1st of that year. I don't know why people keep repeating it but you can order wine and have it shipped to your house. I've done it.


As for this idea... it is a great idea. The laws as they stand are a government sanctioned monopoly that reduces consumer choice and increases prices. Of course the benefactors of this monopoly are going to complain about it but I could careless, if they need this form of welfare to stay profitable then they shouldn't be in business anyways.

Jeremiah Jefferson 7 years, 1 month ago

Down in some parts of the south east you don't buy beer at the liquor store, you buy it at a gas station or a grocery store. You can buy it all day and every day, except sunday its after noon. The grain and harder alcohols and wines are sold at liquor stores They don't sell fake 3.2 beer either. Who really buys that crap anyway? 3.2 beer should be marked 50% off the normal price of normal beer. I love Kansas to death, but the liquor laws here are stoneage.

Jeremiah Jefferson 7 years, 1 month ago

Down in some parts of the south east you don't buy beer at the liquor store, you buy it at a gas station or a grocery store. You can buy it all day and every day, except sunday its after noon. The grain and harder alcohols and wines are sold at liquor stores They don't sell fake 3.2 beer either. Who really buys that crap anyway? 3.2 beer should be marked 50% off the normal price of normal beer. I love Kansas to death, but the liquor laws here are stoneage.

pace 7 years, 1 month ago

Great time to add a bottle bill to the booze. Bring deposits back. We should use the Iowa example.

Bob Forer 7 years, 1 month ago

Too funny. Two diametrically opposed special interest groups--liquor store owners and big chain retail outlets--at each others throats.

Bob Forer 7 years, 1 month ago

You go, Tom!. Maybe sometime we can have a few beers together and talk politics.

Bob Forer 7 years, 1 month ago

Reminds me of an old tune by Charlie Daniels called "Long Haired Country Boy."

Preacher man talkin' on the TV, He's a-puttin' down the rock 'n' roll. He wants me to send a donation,'Cos he's worried about my soul. He said: "Jesus walked on the water,"And I know that is true, But sometimes I think that preacher man, Would like to do a little walkin', too.

But I ain't askin' nobody for nothin', If I can't get it on my own. You don't like the way I'm livin', You just leave this long-haired country boy alone.

flyin_squirrel 7 years, 1 month ago

It will make it easier for minors to buy liquor. You can always find some Quik Trip with a cashier that doesn't care about checking your ID...

DillonBarnes 7 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, because minors have such a hard time now obtaining alcohol.

Marcus DeMond 7 years, 1 month ago

When I was a minor it was MUCH easier to cross into Missouri and buy from grocery and drug stores. Liquor stores were much more likely to keep your fake ID.

Bob Forer 7 years, 1 month ago

In recent years state law enforcement authorities have cracked down on both liquor and cigarette sales to under aged folks Undoubtedly, there are sales to minors which slip through the cracks, but i think most minors obtain their liquor from friends who are of age, instead of directly from liquor stores.

Expanding the market will only make it easier for minors to obtain alcohol illegally. While it is impossible to wipe out underage drinking, why make it easier?

DillonBarnes 7 years, 1 month ago

If 3.2 is already available in gas stations and grocery stores, what's the change? Do you think many underage drinkers are going to refrain from consuming alcohol because all they can get is 3.2? You drank corona when you could get it, otherwise, a 30 of bud light will do.

Tim Quest 7 years, 1 month ago

There are a bunch of people here who have apparently never left the state of Kansas.

Adrienne Sanders 7 years, 1 month ago

Seriously! Many, many states sell all kinds of alcohol in grocery stores and convenience stores. Heck in college I used to get my Boone's farm wine at the Quick Shop. I don't think it would have a huge impact on the economy either way, nor on people's drinking behavior.

hipper_than_hip 7 years, 1 month ago

I question that more grocery and convenience stores will be built because they'll be able to sell liquor. Wouldn't it be more cost effective to add more coolers or shelf space to existing stores?

Marcus DeMond 7 years, 1 month ago

There is a lot of Kansas liquor revenue going to Missouri in Kansas City. A well established grocery store (Hy-Vee/Price Chopper) or convenience store (Royal) in MO can survive on less markup than a standalone liquor store in Kansas. A lot of people drive across state line to save a couple bucks. It would be nice here in Lawrence if the wife could grab a good six pack while she is grocery shopping.

JerryStubbs 7 years, 1 month ago

I agree about illegal sales to minors, that problem would be worse.

If you want to try a decent grocery store beer, try 'Anheuser-Busch's new 'American Ale. '

Bob Forer 7 years, 1 month ago

This is all about one market (the grocery and convenience stores) trying to steal business from another market (the liquor stores). In my opinion, there are already probably enough retail liquor stores to satisfy market demand. Therefore, I doubt new markets will.increase sales, and if they do, the results will only be marginal.

Putting aside the issue whether it is good or bad to increase liquor sales, why should we allow big chains to take over a market which appears to be adequately run by small businesses, most of whom are locally owned and operated?

I believe the liquor stores do an adequate job of restricting sales to minors. I don't think we can guarantee the same results if large chains--and their huge employee pool--were allowed to enter the market.

If it ain't broke, why fix it?

DillonBarnes 7 years, 1 month ago

I can't understand the concern about availability to minors. Alcohol is already easy for many minors to obtain. Do you believe that suddenly making 6.0 beer available in grocery stores vs. 3.2 beer is going to have that big of an impact? I don't see what the horrific impact of this would be.

What if liquor stores were allowed to sell accessories, glasses, wine racks, coolers, even bar tops? The liquor store becomes the premier place for your adult drinking experience. A liquor stores offers a variety that many grocery stores will never (and not want to) match. Can a hometown liquor store survive when grocery stores sell alcohol? Sure, go to another state and see. I'm all for local business, but we don't need to protect businesses that cannot adapt to changing times.

kancan5 7 years, 1 month ago

there is plenty of liqour available now, without it entering grocery or chain stores. Personally, I enjoy the luxury of being able to avoid it altogether; I don't drink therefore I don't patronize liqour stores. I have very strong personal feelings about even entering a liqour store; my father was an alcoholic, took me with him to bars and package stores as a child, and I don't even want to be around it anymore. And, by the way, I Have Ever Right to My Own Feelings, thank you very much. I don't want my children exposed to it either. I don't think non drinkers should have to put up with those products in the grocery store.. It is readily available for those who want it elsewhere. You want a movie, you go to a video store. You want a book, you go to a book store. You have to have a drink, you can waddle into a liqour store to get it . . . leave the other outlets alone.

DillonBarnes 7 years, 1 month ago

Well I had a bad experience with a muffin once... get your bread out of my grocery store and back into the bakery!

Being serious, I'm not trying to poke fun at your feelings, I understand they are very real. However, you can't restrict people from seeing stuff because that makes you uncomfortable. You don't have to purchase the stuff just because it's in the store, and you can still keep your kids away from it by just not purchasing the stuff.

Tim Quest 7 years, 1 month ago

Also, gas stations and grocery stores ALREADY sell beer. So get over yourself, whiner. The world does not revolve around you.

mr_right_wing 7 years, 1 month ago

People should be allowed to buy booze with their 'vision card' (food stamps). Alcoholism has been proven to be (and is federally recognized as) an addiction, a disease and a disability. It should be more readily available in more places, and be able to be purchased in more ways. Alcohol is (to many) a type of medication and should be treated the same way. If delivery is offered for pharmaceuticals, it should also be provided equally for liquor. Doing anything less is discrimination against the sick and/or disabled.

puddleglum 7 years, 1 month ago

here's my take: Liquor stores are an inconvenience. an extra stop I have to make. stupid hours, but by far the worst part: the workers have no concept of customer service. The new wine store at the southeast corner of 6th & wakarusa has nice guys working there. Jensen's has had its ups and downs. Alvin's on 6th is by far the worst-the daughter of the owner frequently makes up stories as to why they no longer carry certain wines. Including telling me that certain wines are 'out of business' or 'they changed their name to this other brand'...I am very pretty, and therefore I am not stupid-looking-but I can't figure out why she makes this stuff up? I simply went to the previously mentioned store at the southeast corner of 6th & wakarusa and ordered a case...guess what? still in business and still the same name-went home to look it up on the internet and couldn't find any shred of truth to what she claimed....If you wonder why I even bother continuing to go there, I have to say good point. But I want to support local business, and that includes Alvin. here's a real gas; the old ray's liquor at 6th & wakarusa routinely charges double the price on a certain brand of whiskey. they claim it's double the size of whatever the size I say is selling down the street for 1/2 of the price....hah! but anyway, yeah-let the dillon's have liquor, maybe the customer service at these other places might improve. or they can rot in hell along with joe college & lew P

GUMnNUTS 7 years, 1 month ago

I have found the same customer service problems at most of the liquor stores around town. Lazy workers who won't even look a wine up in the price book to see if it is available. Why must so many of them lie to me.The only place I shop for wine is City Wine Market because their customer service is outstanding. Hope they can make it when grocery stores can sell wine and hard liquor.

badger 7 years, 1 month ago

What makes y'all think wine in the grocery store will be cheaper? Whenever I've lived anywhere that booze was sold in the grocery and convenience stores, it's been more expensive there, just like the other non-food items.

That said, the existing law protects small businesses, and Kansas has done more than enough to mess things up for small businesses, family farms, and local industry without compounding the errors. Leave the law as it is, or if there must be change, restrict it to beer and wine. In Texas, it's hard liquor only in the liquor stores, but beer and wine are available pretty much everywhere, and it seems like a good balance. I will admit to a certain bias on this one, because while I lived in Lawrence I got to be friends with one of the liquor store owners, and he's a nice guy so I don't want to see his business hurt.

By the way, we finally got Boulevard down here. Between that and the difference in our respective weather reports, I have to say Texas is really the place to be, at least in January.

pizzapete 7 years, 1 month ago

I'd like to be able to buy a six pack of beer at a bar to take home at closing time. Also, it would be cool if bars and liquor stores could be open as late or as early as they would like.

Terry Jacobsen 7 years, 1 month ago

Just what we need. More outlets for underage kids to buy liquor. Wow that makes sense!

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