LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - As the vote for Oklahoma alcohol modernization approaches, one local liquor store owner says a "yes" vote could be catastrophic for her business.
State Question 792 is on the November ballot and, among other things, would allow the sale of wine, as well as cold, high-point beer in grocery stores and gas stations. Supporters of the bill say it will catch Oklahoma up with the vast majority of states that already have the convenience of buying cold, high-point beer from convenience stores. But one local liquor store owner says that is just one small part of the proposal.
Owner and manager of Cache Road Liquor Megan Richard said one of the biggest problems relates to how many licenses to sell alcohol that liquor store owners are able to have, versus how many grocery stores and gas stations can have. Liquor store owners are only licensed to sell in two different locations, but if this proposal is approved, convenience and grocery stores would not have the same restriction and could get as many licenses as they wish.
Richard supports the part of the proposal that changes how beer can be sold. Currently, gas stations and grocery stores can only sell cold, low-point beer while liquor stores can sell high-point beer but it cannot be cold. If the bill passes, everyone would be able to sell any cold, full-point beer that they'd like.
Another thing that would change with the proposal is liquor stores ability to sell non-alcoholic items, something they currently cannot do. Richard said with that change comes liquor store regulations that grocery and convenience store will not face.
"Each month we are limited to 20 percent of our sales being non-alcoholic items, which I don't think is fair because they don't put that same cap on grocery and convenience stores on how much alcohol they can sell," Richard said.
If the state question passes, liquor stores will still be the only place you can buy liquor, which has been the big argument for how liquor stores would still keep their business. Richard said in her opinion, that isn't necessarily the case.
"The truth is most customers come in and, if they buy liquor, they also buy a bottle of wine or beer," Richard said. "When you have that at the grocery store or whatever and they see 'oh my bottle of Barefoot is here', they don't bother to then go to the liquor store and buy that bottle of vodka so you lose that customer."
Richard said she has always been behind modernization of alcohol and that State Question 792 doesn't need to be completely scrapped, just altered to be friendlier to liquor stores rather than big convenience stores. To do that, there is a push for people to sign a petition to get a different state question, State Question 791, on the ballot next year.
"We'd still have the refrigeration, we'd have the tastings in store, which 792 doesn't have," Richard said. "We have a lot more stuff that we feel the consumer would appreciate but unfortunately the consumers are only getting one side to the story, and think this is the only way to get this modernization of our liquor laws passed and it's not."
Richard said another issue they have is the accessibility of some products for parents. She said with State Question 792, parents can take their kids to Walmart to buy alcohol but will be unable to do that at a liquor store.
You can read State Question 792 in its entirety here before heading to the polls in November.