KANSAS CITY, Kan. — It’s deja vu all over again in the Kansas legislature. For at least the third year in a row a bill has been introduced that would allow Kansas grocery and convenience stores to sell full strength beer, wine and liquor.
Those in support say the change will increase convenience for Kansas consumers and spur economic development while those opposed say it will hurt small business.
Right now, if you want to pick up a bottle of wine or liquor while grocery shopping in Kansas — you can’t. ‘Uncork Kansas’ — a group that says it’s made up of more than 1,700 businesses and associations — says it’s now spearheading the effort to change that.
Similar measures have failed the past two years.
The bill would allow for more than just the sale of 3.2 percent beer in Kansas grocery and convenience stores.
“We feel like it’s something the consumers have really been wanting and asking for for a long time because it really brings us into where all the majority of all the states are at,” said Kevin Osterhage, the store director at Hy-Vee in Prairie Village, Kan.
Osterhage says consumers want options and want to be able to buy wine and liquor at somewhere other than the liquor store.
“We have customers weekly ask where is it? And you tell them you don’t have it because of a law and they’re like really and you have to explain to them why and then they are frustrated because it’s one more stop for their shopping they have to do somewhere else,” he said.
Jerry Kenney shops at Grand Liquor, a Mission, Kan. ‘mom and pop’ owned liquor store. He says even if the law changes he won’t go anywhere else. “Keeps my prices down on my beer and works hard for my business so i will keep coming back,” he said.
Ron Singh owns Grand Liquor. He says he wants lawmakers to leave his business alone.
“It feels like right in the middle of a game they’re changing the rules,” he said. Singh says changing the laws now could put him out of business, “who can compete with billion dollar corporations like Walmart, Hy-Vee?”
House Bill 2206 is currently in committee.