The impact strong beer is having on local liquor stores

Local

Grocery and convenience stores in Kansas can now sell strong beer with up to six percent alcohol, but so far, many liquor store owners in Wichita are not seeing a drop in customers coming in to buy beer. 

Those affects some say, might come later down the road. 

“I haven’t noticed any difference,” said David Binter, owner of Derby Wine and Spirits and Central Market Wine and Spirits.

For many liquor stores in Wichita, things may have changed inside the store, but owners said business has been coming in like normal. 

“I don’t feel like it’s going to be detrimental by any means,” said Matt Jabara, owner of JT’s Liquor. “As long we we can adapt and grow, we’ll be okay.”

With strong beer becoming available at grocery and convenience stores, many liquor stores have altered their shops and made renovations to accomodate the new law. 

Liquor stores are now allowed to sell drinks, snacks and other non-alcholic products as long as the profit doesn’t exceed 20 percent gross sales. They can also sell tobacco inside the store.

“The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Jeff Breault, owner of R&J Discount Liquor.

These new sales are opening the door for even more customers, possibly booming business for some stores. 

“I plan on adding a lot of items,” said Binter. “I’m very enthused by this law change.”

While many shop owners in Wichita said they think their business will be okay, despite other stores now carrying strong beer, they fear for small town Kansas and the smaller mom and pop shops in the state.

Kansas has more than 750 liquor stores and all of them are owned by Kansans, opposite of the big name retailers who now carry strong beer.

“It’s already cost stores in Kansas,” said Breault. “Just this little change and we feel that’s going to be harder on small town Kansas.”

But overall, the liquor store owners said they’ll adapt to the changes as needed in order to keep their customers happy.

“I don’t really feel like we’re going to lose our faithful, every day customers to a grocery store or a convenience store just for beer,” said Jabara. 

In 10 years, Alcoholic Beverage Control will have to give Kansas legislators a report that includes the impact the strong beer sales have had on local businesses.

Many of the liquor store owners said they predict the retailers will keep fighting for more in their stores, eventually asking for wine and liquor.

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