Grocery Store Owners Want To Uncork Alcohol Sales

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW)-- Grocery store owners say it's healthy competition, but liquor stores owners say it would be bad business practice to allow grocery stores to sell alcohol.

The two sides made their case Wednesday during a hearing before the House Commerce, Labor and Economic Development Committee.

Members of the Uncork Kansas Coalition are urging lawmakers to pass a bill that would allow grocery and convenience stores to sell adult beverages. They say creating more competition is good for everyone and point out the bill also includes benefits for the liquor stores.

"This transitions from the current liquor system where the liquor store owners will be able to sell other products and have the opportunity to do other things with their business as well as carrying some of the products that we carry," said Dave Dillon, Chairman of the Kroger Company Board of Directors, adding his group is trying to work with liquor store owners on their concerns.

Opponents say it's unfair to change a law that has been in place for more than 60 years. They say the measure would harm small businesses.

"I'm upset because I don't want to be 52 years-old and lose everything I worked 28 year for just for the benefit for out of state corporations so they can take the profits and ship them back to their home offices in Iowa, Arkansas, Ohio and not leave the money here in the state of Kansas," said Steve Faust, Owner of MDL Wine and Spirits.

Sales of full-strength beer would not be legal until 2017, wine in 2020 and spirits in 2024.

A similar measure last session was not approved.