KEEP KANSANS IN BUSINESS Local businesses are the lifeblood of our communities
Kansas' more than 754 liquor stores are owned by Kansans. Every liquor store in a community is owned by a neighbor.
The following are important facts about Main Street businesses that will be closed if the current system is altered.
It is the function of a legislature to look out for its citizens - including small business owners. Allowing out-of-state companies to unecessarily put Kansans out of business is contrary to the function of state government.
It is the job of the legislature to ensure hundreds of small businesses stay in business and thousands of Kansans do not lose their higher-wage jobs.
It is the job of the legislature to ensure that locally-owned businesses continue to succeed because more of their money stays in our economy, compared to out-of-state chain stores which ship dollars out of state.
There is nothing wrong with the Legislature sending the message that it supports the current system - a system which is 100% operated by Kansans and keeps dollars at home.
Big-box, grocery and convenience stores are not interested in selling local products, and put demands on these producers that will due long-term harm to Kansas farm wineries. For this reason, and others, Kansas farm wineries are speaking out against proposed changes. Read the letter here.
Kansas has a growing industry of alcohol producers, from craft beers to spirits to speciality products. Proposed legislation would limit the distribution of these product throughout the state because it would be much more difficult to get their products on the shelves of supermarkets compared to local retailers.
This bill will significantly impact small breweries, distilleries and other producers ability to get into the market and significantly impact the variety of products we have in the state.
Shark Bite Margaritas, based in Olathe, provided an explanation of how proposed legislation not only hurts retailers, but alcohol producers in the state. Read their explanation here.
The average liquor store in Kansas is 3,000 square feet or less. Changes would allow current liquor store owners to sell other products. BUT WHERE WILL THEY PUT THEM?
Many of these stores are landlocked or in areas where zoning and permitting make it impossible to expand. It's not about not wanting to compete - its about not being able to compete!
Big-box stores will simply clear off a few shelves and add liquor to their regular inventory, with no concerns about space.
If a current liquor store owner wants to move or expand, lending to small businesses is at record lows. Especially in rural communities! And upon passage of this legislation, the state of Kansas is telling every banker in Kansas half of these stores are going out-of-business, making them a poor investment.
Having the ability to sell other products is not the issue. Having nowhere to put them - and no lending options to expand - is a practical problem this legislation ignores.
Kansas' current retail liquor system has been in place since its creation in the 1940s. Every Kansan who has invested in a retail liquor store has done so with a promise from the state that they were investing in a specific system established by the state. Changing the current system undermines the investment Mom & Pop made in Kansas. Kansas should continue to respect - and appreciate - that investment.
There are more than 100 restaurants, pubs and bars in Kansas' 12 dry counties which, by law, can only serve 3.2 Beer. While proposed changes do not ban 3.2 beer, producers have said they make selling that product in Kansas less profitable, as convenience and big-box stores will stop sellling 3.2. Beer and switch to strong beer. This means producers are likely to stop making 3.2. Beer for Kansas, which puts dry county businesses out-of-business. These establishments are all locally-owned. Kansas' dry counties are: Clay, Clark, Doniphan, Elk, Gray, Haskell, Jewell, Meade, Rice, Sheridan, Stanton, Stafford, Wallace and Wichita.
Jim Scott, a longtime former store owner in Fort Scott, explains why changing the current system will harm Kansas and is unecessary. Click here to view
According to a Fiscal Analysis developed by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, the loss in beer and spirits sales would put many Kansas-owned stores out of business:
"...grocery and convenience stores will be able to sell comparatively low volumes of ...beer profitably."
"Accounting for both the lost spirits sales and the lost beer sales, total package store revenues would decline from $461.3 million to $254.6 million - a 45% reduction."
"Clearly, not all businesses could withstand a 46% decline in revenues. As a result, we would expect a decline in the number of package stores...The $254.6 million in total package sales would support a total of 509 package stores. Thus, 217 package stores are projected to go out of business. Naturally, as the number of package stores declines, the availability of spirits declines as well."
As a current liquor store owner, I have been approached by customers and friends asking my thoughts about Senate Bill 54, which would allow alcohol to be sold in grocery and convenience stores, as well as other establishments.
After answering their questions and commenting on their concerns, I’ve asked them whether they think it would be better for Kansans to expand sales outlets or maintain the status quo. Now, I’m asking all Kansas citizens which they believe is better for the state.
Here are some factors to consider:
-- Expanding sales would lead to the closing of the majority of family-owned liquor stores, increasing the already high unemployment numbers and causing greater economic challenges for Kansas. It would also lead to out-of-state, corporate-owned businesses selling alcohol and sending their profits back to their home state. Hy-Vee and Casey’s General Stores are based in Iowa, for example, while Wal-Mart’s corporate headquarters are in Arkansas and Kroger’s are in Ohio. With profits from alcohol sales going back to the businesses’ home states, how would the proposal benefit Kansans and our local communities?
-- Liquor stores currently carry a large variety of items, which allows consumers a range of choices from lower-priced wines, beers and spirits on up to much higher-priced, hard-to-find specialty items. Corporate-owned grocery and convenience stores tend not to carry such a wide variety of inventory. Do Kansas consumers want more or fewer choices?
-- Expanding sales outlets will cause Kansas alcoholic-beverage wholesalers, with no guarantee of increased sales, to expand their current distribution systems -- creating increased costs in infrastructure that utlimately will be passed on to consumers.
-- Who will enforce Kansas liquor laws? Allowing more businesses to sell alcoholic beverages will increase the already huge burden on our current state enforcement agencies. More enforcement officers will need to be hired and trained to ensure that all regulations are followed. Considering the state is already facing budget shortfalls, where will it obtain the funding to cover these additional expenses?
An alliance known as Keep Kansans in Business has been formed to ensure that the more than 750 locally-owned and -operated retail liquor businesses, which employ thousands of Kansans, remain the foundation of Kansas’ alcohol regulatory system and a part of our Kansas communities. Please go to the alliance’s website www.keepkansasjobs.com to learn more.
PATRICIA DRAKE, Topeka Club Liquor, Topeka