First they came for the wine and good beer. Now they want the strong stuff, too!
According to an article in The Journal Record, Walmart and Friends are mobilizing a big-money push to allow hard liquor sales in Oklahoma grocery stores, gas stations, drug stores, etc.
Check this out:
Walmart and an Oklahoma City political consultant are kicking off a campaign to legalize the sale of whiskey, gin, vodka, tequila and other spirits in grocery stores across the state, according to an association that represents Oklahoma liquor stores.
Robert Jernigan, president of the Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma, said the national retailer has hired Pat McFerron, founding partner of CMA Strategies, to initiate a legislative lobbying campaign. The process will apparently begin in September with an organizational meeting involving alcohol wholesalers, distributors, industry lobbyists and associated services. Retail liquor store owners were not invited.
Geeze, I wonder why the retail liquor store owners weren’t invited? Allowing the Walmarts, 7-Elevens and Walgreens of the world to sell spirits will put most liquor stores out of business, so you’d think they’d want to have a say in how they’re put to death.
Walmart spent nearly $5 million in its push to overhaul state alcohol laws in 2016, when State Question 792 was passed, allowing wine and full-strength beer to be sold in Oklahoma grocery stores for the first time.
The retailer wanted spirits to be included in that state question, Jernigan said. But spirits did not poll well at the time, so strategists dropped them to make SQ 792 passage more likely.
Hey, I was all for SQ 792. I thought it was dumb that consumers couldn’t buy good beer and wine at grocery and convenience stores. It was a good law then and – based on the several times I’ve bought prosecco at the grocery store on a Sunday morning – still think it’s a good law now, but…
Does this take things too far?
I know other states allow grocery stores and other retailers to hawk the strong stuff. I’m also aware that it would be convenient for consumers to be able to grab the vodka for the vodka sauce at the same place they get all the other ingredients, but…
A) Do we really want to sell Jack Daniels in the same places that hawk guns and ammo?
B) Do we really want to put most of the state’s liquor stores out of business?
Once again, I was all for SQ 792, so this may be a bit hypocritical, but I like having liquor stores around. Most of them are mom-and-pop small businesses, and putting them to death so huge multinational corporations can squeeze a little more profit for their out-of-state shareholders seems wrong.
Sure, opening up the hard liquor trade to evil corporations that drain government resources and seem to do more harm to the public than good may save downtrodden alcoholics a few bucks each month, but is that really worth decimating a line of retailers that have been part of Oklahoma culture since the 1950s?
Also, when we passed SQ 792, there was a little bit in it for liquor stores, too. It gave them the opportunity to sell refrigerated beer and other common-sense products like corkscrews and margarita mix. I know that didn’t offset the losses they took when Emily started buying her Relax at Whole Foods, but at least it was something.
What type of concessions will they give to retail liquor stores now? Allow them to sell spray paint to huffers or laundry detergent to meth makers? Outside of that, it’s hard to think of any.
I guess we’ll continue to monitor this story and see where things go with it. If you have any thoughts, leave a comment.
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