Liquor Stores Keeping Eye on Upcoming Sales Law Hearing

Store owners will be paying attention to a federal appeals court as they prepare to hear arguments in the sales law case.
In a few weeks, a federal appeals court will hear arguments over Kentucky's ban on liquor sales at certain businesses. Last year, a judge ruled the ban on sales at grocery stores and gas stations unconstitutional. But the state Alcoholic Beverage Control department wants the ruling overturned.

"It's not real hard to find."

You can find it. You can buy it if you're old enough, just not everywhere.

"We all know what we face."

Nikki Smith of Val-U Liquors says if the state's ban on liquor and wine sales at grocery stores and gas stations is overturned, then stores like her's face an uphill challenge.

"Not only are we specialized because we do not want children around liquor or beer, we also don't have the thousands of other products to help keep our lights on," she says.

Last year, a federal judge ruled the state's ban unconstitutional because it violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

"A lot of people enter stores in Kentucky expecting to be able to do that, along with a lot of consumers in Kentucky traveling to other places and seeing that kind of convenience in other states and wondering why they couldn't do it here in Kentucky," says Ted Mason of the Kentucky Grocers Association.

"This was not customer driven by any means," Smith counters. "This was driven by big box stores, grocery stores. They want more and more."

But some say they rather see more options to where they can find and buy it.

"I don't see a reason for it. If they sell beer, what's the difference in selling the rest of it, as long as it's inaccessible on Sundays," says Rachel Shoemaker of Owensboro.

Smith says another problem is stores like hers have different rules from grocery stores over age limits on employees and who's allowed in the stores. She adds it could be up to lawmakers in Kentucky to change the law if the judge's ruling is upheld.
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