Archive for Monday, January 19, 2015

Editorial: Liquor sales

Will some new twists tip the balance for the effort to allow Kansas grocery stores to sell wine and liquor?

January 19, 2015

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It will be interesting to see whether having an effective new spokesman will help the Uncork Kansas coalition gain legislative approval for Kansas grocery stores to sell strong beer, wine and liquor.

Efforts to obtain this change have gained momentum in recent years. This year, Uncork Kansas has a new leader and a new plan that might tip the balance. The new leader is David Dillon, a Kansas native whose family founded the Dillons grocery store chain. The group was later sold to Kroger, which Dillon served as CEO and chairman before retiring last month. The new plan involves capping the number of liquor licenses that will be allowed in the state, meaning that any grocery store that wants to sell wine or liquor must buy a license from an existing liquor store owner. Assuming that grocery store sales would run many liquor stores out of business, the need to purchase the license would help compensate the liquor store owners for the loss of their businesses.

Convenience stores, which now can sell only beer with an alcohol content of up to 3.2 percent, would be allowed to sell strong beer without obtaining a liquor license, but not wine or liquor.

There are arguments on both sides of this issue. Allowing grocery stores to sell liquor and wine would be convenient for customers, and, Dillon points out, it might mean the difference between a small-town grocery store being financially viable or having to close its doors. But it would result in the loss of liquor stores, which opponents say do a good job of making sure liquor isn’t sold to minors. Would changing the law increase liquor consumption in Kansas or illegal sales? It’s hard to know.

Kansans sometimes are frustrated with the state’s tradition of quirky liquor laws, but the state isn’t as out of step as one might think. Huffington Post did some research last August and produced a set of maps to illustrate state liquor laws across the nation. Kansas is one of only a handful of states in which grocery stores can sell only 3.2 beer and one of about a dozen where grocery stores can’t sell wine. However, according to the Huffington Post maps, fewer than half of the states allow grocery stores to sell distilled spirits.

The new plan being touted by Uncork Kansas has some new twists that may make it more acceptable even in a state with a strong temperance tradition. Times change; we’ll see how much.

Comments

Don Brennaman 2 years, 10 months ago

How about liquor stores sell hard liquor and smokes; grocery stores and convenience stores sell high point beer, wine and no smoke sales? Oh, I forgot, the big boys get everything the want. BTW if you want to put a heavy tax on sin let's start with taxing marijuana.

Philipp Wannemaker 2 years, 10 months ago

Think allowing grocery stores to handle full range of beers and wines is very good idea. However, under no circumstances should they handle hard liquor or as commonly called distilled spirits.

Beth Newman 2 years, 10 months ago

This ain't about good ideas. It's about money & the corporate thugs win again. They don't give a damn about you. Wake up.

Joe Blackford II 2 years, 10 months ago

Passed a liquor store here in Manhattan this a.m., the sign out on the highway read:

Put a cork in it Dillons.

Scott Tichenor 2 years, 10 months ago

Makes mental note to self: Huffington Post study quoted by LJW editorial staff. January 19, 2015, surely a date to remember. Someone in IT at LJW may want to start checking the cache and cookies on staff computers and report to owners. Pretty sure cruising HP on World Company time would be solid grounds for termination.

Everyone knows Kansas' liquor laws are from the dinosaur age, if you believe in dinosaurs. Clear most in this state do not. All boils down to how much money the grocery store lobby is pumping into the Republican-led legislature. That'll determine the outcome, not common sense.

Randall Uhrich 2 years, 10 months ago

" All boils down to how much money the grocery store lobby is pumping into the Republican-led legislature" This is true. The liquor store owners are whining about losing their unfair monopoly that they've enjoyed for decades, rather than being grateful for the profits they've enjoyed. I suggest they lobby to be able to sell convenience store items, rather than selling their licenses.

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