Bill in Kansas legislature would phase in liquor sales at grocery and retail stores

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Wichita, KAN. -- The group Uncork Kansas has proposed a bill that would phase in beer, wine and liquor stores at grocery and convenience stores across the state.

The bill calls for a ten year freeze on new liquor licenses beginning July 1, 2014. Beginning July 1, 2017 grocery and convenience stores would be allowed to sell stronger beer and 3.2 percent beer would go away. July 1, 2020 grocery and convenience would be able to add wine along with beer sales. Also liquor stores could start selling nonalcoholic products of their choosing. Beginning July 1, 2024 grocery and convenience stores would be able to sell hard liquor along with beer and wine.

Also after July 1, 2015 current retail liquor stores would be allowed to see their licenses to other retailers including grocery and convenience stores.

Third generation grocer, Jeff Kraus of Kraus Foods in Colwich said he doesn't expect a jump in foot traffic if the bill passes but more convenience for his current customers. "The lady that comes in and is buying what she needs for dinner that night would have to make an extra stop, to get a particular bottle of wine would be able to pick it up here", Kraus said.

But many mom and pop liquor store owners say the bill will drive them out of business. Tim Beall and his son own The Designated Drinker Liquor Store in northwest Wichita. "We just got started a couple of years ago and we're struggling to make it as it is", said Beall. "And the companies already have their niche. Why do they have to take everybody else's niche?"

Small liquor store owners have said if this bill passes it will mean the end for many small liquor stores across the state of Kansas.
Organizations representing small liquor stores and groups representing grocery and convenience stores are sending out fliers to their members urging them to contact their state representative about the bill.

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