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Florida’s Liquor Wall

by | Mar 15, 2017 | alcohol beverage law, Distribution, Florida

In Florida, there is a decades old prohibition that restricts grocery and large store retailers such as Walmart and Target from selling liquor products.

Currently these big box retail chains are limited to selling beer and wine products but prohibited from selling spirits.  Bryan Avila, R-Hialeah, sponsored a bill to amend the law requiring liquor stores and bars to be separated from groceries and other retail goods. The proposed bill would create dual “liquor package store licenses,” with “Type A” licenses going to stores keeping a wall of separation between booze and other retail items, and “Type B” licenses going to those who sell liquor in the same general space as other goods.

As reported by the Palm Beach Post, the Government Operations &  Technology Appropriations Subcommittee voted 7-6 to support an amended proposal (HB 81) that would end a Depression-era law requiring liquor stores and bars to be separated from groceries and other retail goods, an issue commonly referred to as the “liquor wall.”

The bill which has been publicly supported by Walmart and Target and opposed by Publix and ABC Fine Wine & Spirits has been a contentious issue for those involved. The independent retailers are worried they will no longer be able to compete against large retailers and members of the public fear that under age patrons should not be exposed to alcohol when shopping for items in a grocery store, the reason for the separation.

Pat McClellan, owner of the Flora-Bama lounge and package store in the Panhandle, told the Post such a change would result in a greater ability for minors to get their hands on liquor and would lead to more impulse-buying of alcohol. “It ain’t right to put the apple schnapps next to the apple sauce,” McClellan said.

The bill still needs to make it through one more committee in the House and awaits a floor vote in the Senate and until then the public debates will continue on both sides of the field.

By: Oren Cytrynbaum

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