Judge could rule today on suit over grocery store wine sales | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Judge could rule today on suit over grocery store wine sales

Posted By on Tue, Nov 14, 2017 at 7:24 AM

click to enlarge grocerystorewine3.jpg

Federal Judge Brian Miller could decide as early as today whether to put a halt to sale of a full selection of wine in permitted Arkansas grocery stores, which otherwise becomes legal Thursday.

Retail liquor stores have filed a federal court suit to stop the new law, which expanded grocery stores' previous ability to sell only Arkansas or small-batch wines. They claim they are subject to more regulations and limitations than grocery stores. Among others, grocery store chains may obtain permits for dozens of stores, regardless of the number of outlets in a location, where there's a per capita limit on liquor stores.

Linda Satter gave a comprehensive rundown of the arguments in a court hearing yesterday in today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

My conclusion: Arkansas liquor laws are a crazy mishmash of protectionism manipulated by beverage makers, wholesalers and retailers.  Consumers suffer. A freely competitive open market — including the ability to buy wine by mail — would produce greater selection and better prices. I'll not waste more breath making that moot point.

I'd just settle for Little Rock city directors availing themselves of existing law and opening the door to grocery store beer sales on Sunday. The retail liquor lobby is opposed to that, too.

It was noted in the hearing yesterday that some stores already have stocked out-of-state, large production wines in preparation for the new law, but they are said to be prohibited from selling them as yet.

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