Liquor stores feeling the pinch, beer distributors see increase after new law

OKLAHOMA CITY – While many liquor store owners say they are struggling after the passage of a modernized alcohol law, beer distributors say they have seen a drastic jump in business.

State Question 792 removed the distinction between low-point beer and ‘strong’ beer, allowing stores to sell refrigerated ‘strong’ beer and wine.

Previously, liquor stores were the only places you could purchase high-point beer, wine and spirits.

Since the measure went into effect in October, Vance Gregory with Edmond Wine Shop says his business is feeling the pinch.

“I like to think we can compete on selection and service, but we can’t really compete on convenience,” Gregory said. “We can’t be everywhere the grocery stores are. There are a lot of grocery stores out there.”

As a result, he says his sales have dropped 20 to 25 percent.

“I can’t see how all the liquor stores currently in business are going to be able to survive this. There’s too much competition out there, so I think it will take a year or two before you see the final wash out of all the stores closing,” he said.

On the other hand, officials with the Oklahoma Beer Alliance says its members have seen a drastic increase in business since the law went into effect.

“As the first sales data come in, some of our members have seen double-digit sales growth and working with more retailers than ever before, “said Lisette Barnes, president of the Oklahoma Beer Alliance. “This is beginning of big growth phase for the entire Oklahoma beer industry because of modern alcohol laws.”

Last month, the Oklahoma ABLE Commission announced that retailer beer licenses for grocery and convenience stores had climbed to more than 3,200 licenses.

“We are now serving more than 1,000 more retailers than we did last year,” said Jason Hall, senior director Anheuser-Busch Sales of Oklahoma Tulsa and treasurer of the Oklahoma Beer Alliance. “We have doubled our warehouse capacity to take on the increase in sales volume to meet the retailer demand.”

 

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