Group Urging Legislature To Change State Liquor Laws

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

One-stop shopping for groceries, wine and beer is what the group “Uncork Kansas” wants the legislature to allow. But liquor store owners fear expanded liquor sales will run them out of business.

The owners of some small town Kansas grocery stores say they need a change in the Kansas liquor laws so they can remain competitive and stay in business.

Jeff Kraus is a third-generation Kansas grocer with the family store in Colwich. He sees market share erode to stores like Dillons and Walmarts in nearby Wichita.

“If I can offer them one less trip into Wichita, into town, keep them here spending money locally, it allows me to try to keep the doors open," Kraus said.

Grocers like Kraus want to sell stronger alcoholic beverages than the 3.2% beer they now sell.

The Uncork Kansas group is urging the legislature to change state laws to allow groceries to sell liquor store items. Now, the group is tempering their push to limit the change to strong beer and wine in grocery stores and leaving the harder spirits for liquor stores.

"If they could sell the same beer here that they could at the liquor store, I would purchase it here along with my other items I come in for," says shopper Dian Stelter.

But those supporting liquor store owners are urging no change, saying if the large stores start selling stronger beer and wine, hundreds of liquor stores will go out of business.

"If QuikTrips, Dillons and others were able to sell the harder liquor and beer, we would probably be run out of business," says liquor store manager Tim Beall

A Kansas House committee is expected to hear the proposed amendments on the subject next week.

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