Strong beer coming to Kansas grocery and convenience stores, changes to liquor stores

Local

Kansans will be able to buy full-strength beer at grocery or convenience stores and liquor stores will be adding some product to their shelves too, starting April 1. 

It’s all part of a law that was signed by former Governor Sam Brownback in 2017. 

The law allows convenience and grocery stores to sell beer with up to 6 percent alcohol by volume.

Before legislators changed the law, stores could only sell beer with 3.2 percent alcohol. 

The law also allows liquor stores to sell non-alcoholic products such as tobacco, sodas, mixers, chasers and snacks. Aside from tobacco, the products cannot exceed 20 percent of gross sales for the store. 

R&J Discount Liquor is one shop that has made major changes leading up to April 1.  

“When you go from 760 locations for strong beer to 3,000 or 4,000, that’s going to leave an impact,” said Jeff Breault, owner. 

Breault traveled to Topeka when the legislation was being discussed and voiced his opinion there. 

He said it seems like both sides came to a good agreement. 

Tobacco was originally sold in a separate shop inside the store. It’ll now be sold behind the counter. 

Mixers, sodas and snacks will also be available inside and some of those can even be refrigerated. 

“We expanded our location, almost doubles it,” said Breault. “Felt like it was the thing to do to make a more welcoming, shoppable experience.”

One upper hand in this change is most liquor stores will still be unique in selling 10 to 15 percent alcohol craft beer. 

You won’t find that at grocery and convenience stores. 

“We will not have 3.2 beer anymore,” said Terrance Moss, division manager at QuikTrip. “It’ll be anything up to six percent.”

Local QuikTrip stores and other chains have signage of the strong beer coming soon all over their stores. 

Managers said they’re looking forward to opening the door to strong beer, as well as eventually bringing in craft beer. 

Moss said they will pay attention to what the customers want and if their first round of product isn’t something they like, the store will change the selection. 

“It allows us to reach customers we may have not been able to in the past,” said Moss.

In different ways, both sides will have a more convenient experience for customers, which is something both management teams said was the end goal. 

“We’re all about maknig the customer experience convenient and easy and shoppable,” said Breault. “That does make it easier to be a one-stop place.”

The new law will go into place on Monday, April 1. 

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