Bill could allow liquor sales in grocery stores

Liquor stores could be facing some new competition, if Uncorked Kansas gets the legislation they want passed.

John Reinartz has owned O’Brien Retail Liquor in Topeka for 17 years.

“I see the clientele going away, I see us putting this store on the market and saying lets sell it while we can, if this bill passes as opposed to sticking it out for another 5-10 years,” said Reinartz.

Reinartz is worried about a new bill that has been introduced to the Kansas House of Representatives. The bill would serve up more competition for Reinartz, grocery stores and convenience stores could sell beer, wine, and spirits.

“It serves no useful purpose, it’s another Walmart coming into an area, it will drive the small stores out of business. Prices will go up eventually, once it gets into the markets,” said Reinartz.

Grocery stores can currently sell 3-2 beer. If this bill is passed, grocery and convenience stores could sell full strength beer starting in 2017, wine in 2020, and spirits in 2024.

“Our customers have been telling us that they like us to carry beer and wine in our stores, and we’re trying to accommodate that,” said Dale Dillon, Chairman of the Kroger Company.

Wednesday, the House Commerce Committee heard testimony in front of a full house, from those who do and do not support the bill.

“We also have worked with the coalition to try to find a way to help even the liquor store owners, because today, liquor store owners can only sell liquor, they can’t sell anything else and this bill would allow them to sell other products and so they could expand their business,” said Dillon.

This is not the first time a bill like this has appeared in the legislature, the most recent attempt was last legislative session.

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