The Boston Globe reports that industry groups have struck a compromise to allow more grocery and package stores to sell alcohol.
I think this is wise. Currently, stores like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, as well as liquor stores owned by the same company or person, can only sell alcohol at three locations across the entire state.
Under the agreement, the statewide cap on the number of liquor licenses store companies and individuals can own would gradually increase so that they can sell alcohol at more locations. The limit for these “off-premises” licenses, now three per company, would climb to five next year, to seven in 2016, and nine in 2020. Permits would require local approval.
A revised bill reflecting the new agreement was voted out of committee on Thursday, and could come before the full Legislature as soon as next week.
After a campaign over a 2006 ballot measure to allow more food stores to sell wine, supermarkets and liquor stores, along with beer and wine distributors, were reluctant to renew the battle, the Globe reported.
“It was a real motivator,” said Jon Hurst, president of the state’s retailers association. “It’s a good compromise. I give both sides a lot of credit.”
The 2006 ballot question was among the costliest in state history, with corporate interests spending more than $11.5 million spent to sway voters.
The measure, which was defeated 56 percent to 44 percent, would have allowed cities and towns to issue new licenses to grocery stores, and allowed them to hold an unlimited number.
The current legislation, however, works within the established quota system.
“It doesn’t change the overall number of licenses, just the number you can hold,” he said.
The raised cap on licenses would also give package stores more opportunity to grow, and increase the value of their current license should they decide to sell.
Critics have also raised concerns that teenagers will find it easier to buy alcohol from supermarkets than smaller liquor stores. Supporters say that with increased competition, customers will save money and enjoy increased convenience from one-stop shopping.