New law will impact county merchants

The beer at Carlson's Grocery in Marion is full strength now thanks to a new Kansas alcohol law. Laura Fowler Paulus/Free PressKansas recently caught up with a majority of the United States when new alcohol laws went into effect on April 1.

Previously, beer sold outside of liquor stores was only available at 3.2 percent. But now, beer must be full strength at places such as convenience stores and grocery stores. They still will not be able to sell a lot of craft beers since there is still a cap of six percent outside of liquor stores.

For many towns and cities, this means that liquor stores could face much more competition now that customers can get their beer and groceries or other items all in one stop. And grocery and convenience stores are benefitting from the new laws.

“I didn’t sell much beer before, but I’ve almost doubled my beer sales now. It’s only been a week, but sales have increased,” said Greg Carlson, the owner of Carlson’s Grocery in Marion.

The liquor stores in Marion County may fair better since they do not have to compete with large chain grocers or Walmart. They may still be able to keep sales steady with customer loyalty.

“I’ve had several say that they don’t care about what’s going on. They have always come here and they still plan to,” said Anjanette Vinduska, manager at R & D Liquor in Hillsboro.

While there are some differences in hours that make the non-liquor stores more appealing since they can open earlier and close later than liquor stores are legally able to, liquor store owners are hoping their specialized services will keep sales steady.

“There’s more selection here and more expertise. Hopefully we can steer you into getting something that you like at least style wise. We can also order in things you want,” said Vinduska. “And since a lot of the community shops here, too, I can often help you pick out something that I know your neighbor or loved one usually gets when they are in here.”

While you can’t get everything at a liquor store like at another store, some of the liquor stores in Marion County are working on providing more selection of non-alcohol items.

“There are things that people ask for all the time like tonic water, bitters, margarita salt and other things they don’t sell around town, and we will carry some of that now,” said Vinduska.

Regardless of where you purchase your alcohol, the new laws allow more options for the customers.

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