Debate continues about allowing KS grocery stores to sell liquor - KCTV5

Debate continues about allowing Kansas grocery stores to sell wine, hard spirits

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Soon people in Kansas could be buying their wine and hard alcohol along with their pastas and eggs, that is if the Kansas Chamber of Commerce has their way.

The plan is to allow grocery stores to sell wine and hard spirits, but many said that will drive small business owners out of business.

These days you can get just about anything at a grocery store - that is unless you're looking for something a little stronger than 3.2 percent beer on the Kansas side.

"Very often people come in and ask, 'Where's the wine? I want that with my supper tonight.' I have to inform them that we aren't allowed to sell wine in the grocery store because it's Kansas," Hy-Vee Store Director Kevin Osterhage said.

Osterhage runs the Hy-Vee off 76th Street and State Line Road. He said he's pleased to hear the Kansas Chamber of Commerce is once again throwing its support behind a push to allow grocery stores to sell hard liquor, wine and stronger beer.

Kevin Eckles with the Chamber said liquor stores in Kansas have an unfair advantage because only they can sell those items. He said that hurts grocery stores in rural areas and those close to other states that don't have the same restrictions.

"A lot of folks, when they are over in Missouri, buy all their liquor and gas over there because it's less expensive and more convenient, so Kansas is losing revenue to Missouri because of our outdated regulatory environment," Eckles said.

But not everyone agrees with that sentiment.

"The big box retailers start to affect pricing and it's hard to compete," said Ryan Beach, a manager of Tipsy's Liquor in Mission, KS.

Beach said it's hard enough to do business in this economy and he predicts he could have to lay off half a dozen people if big retailers are allowed to compete against him.

"The smaller guys, it's going to put them out of business. They'll lose a lot of jobs and that's not what we need to have happen right now - lose jobs," he said.

But Eckles disputes that, saying, at the end of the day, increased competition is better for everyone. He is hoping to have some sort of bill before Kansas lawmakers in the next few months.

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