Poll: Most Kansans Support Leaving Liquor Laws Alone

By: Phil White Email
By: Phil White Email

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

As state legislators once again look at a proposal to let grocery and convenience stores sell liquor, a group representing Kansas liquor store owners says a majority of Kansans support leaving the law alone.

A public opinion poll commissioned by Keeping Kansans in Business asked 500 Kansans likely to vote in 2014 what they thought about allowing grocery and convenience stores to sell liquor, wine and full-strength beer. According to the poll, 66 percent of those asked said they oppose that change.

Liquor store owners are pleased with the results.

John Davis, whose family owns four Wichita-area liquor stores, is one of about 750 liquor store owners represented by Keeping Kansans in Business..

Davis said allowing large retailers to sell liquor would put stores like his out of business and put the stores' employees out of work.

"Our employees would most likely be out of work and on the unemployment rolls," he said.

Those in favor of changing the law argue it will create a more fair business environment and that local liquor stores would still have a more diverse selection. Davis said it is true stores like his will likely stock products not offered by large retailers.

However, he said, that will not be enough.

"I can't live on just that item," Davis said. "So I'm out of business, they've got the top 100 items and that's the only thing you've got a choice of."

Davis also disagrees with the argument that changing the law will benefit locally owned convenience stores. He believes those businesses will be pushed out by larger competitors if those competitors are allowed to sell liquor.

"They'd be glad to put you out of business in a minute," he said.

A House Bill proposing changes to Kansas liquor laws was introduced Feb. 4. It has been sent to the House Taxation Committee, but now hearings have been set.

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