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Kansas grocers, gas stations to start selling stronger beer

April 1, 2019

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Grocery and convenience stores in Kansas are stocking their shelves with stronger beer.

Starting Monday, stores can sell beer with up to 6% alcohol by volume. State law previously only allowed groceries and convenience stores to stock beer with up to 3.2% alcohol content, which is considerably lower than leading light beer brands.

Under the 2017 law that goes into effect this week, liquor stores can also sell more non-alcoholic products, such as shot glasses, mixers, lottery tickets and tobacco products.

Kansas lawmakers have debated the issue for years. Opponents had expressed concerns that large grocery chains would put independent liquor stores out of business.

The legislation passed by voters two years ago is viewed as a compromise that allowed liquor stores to keep rights to wine and hard liquor, while expanding their nonalcoholic product offerings.

Oklahoma and Colorado have made similar charges. The beer revolution leaves just two states, Utah and Minnesota, where beer with only up to 3.2% alcohol content may be sold in grocery and convenience stores.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Valerie Taylor, marketing manager at the Merc Co-op in Lawrence.

Taylor told the Lawrence Journal-World that the grocery store acquired the proper licensing to sell full-strength brews and plans to add a cooler with options from local breweries.

Matt Easley, manager of liquor store On The Rocks in Lawrence, said he isn’t thrilled that a nearby grocery store will be able to cut into his market, but that liquor stores will still offer a more diverse and extensive selection of alcohol.

Liquor stores also have staff members who are more knowledgeable about the products, he added.

“Certainly there will be more places for people to buy (beer), but we’re confident in our business model and how we treat customers,” Easley said.

Sheila Lowrie, a spokeswoman for Dillons Food Stores, said the assortment of beers for purchase could triple in some grocery stores.

“We’ve waited a long time to be able offer full-strength beer and craft beers to our customers,” Lowrie said. “We’re just as excited as they are.”

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