Looking Beyond Beer

A controversial proposal is moving rapidly through the State House in Iowa, which if approved would allow all gas stations in the state to sell hard liquor in the main aisles, along side everyday products.


Supporters say this will reduce the burden and expense placed on small business owners, while making liquor more available to rural Iowans whose nearest grocery is a convenience store. Meanwhile, opponents argue the proposal is being pushed by a big c-store chain, and could increase teen drinking problems and worsen the quality of life in city neighborhoods, the Des Moines (Iowa) Register reported


The bill has heavyweight supporters on both sides. Both Kum & Go and the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Stores of Iowa (PMCSI) are lobbying in favor of expanding gas station liquor sales.


“Convenience stores in Iowa have been hurt with lawmakers taking more and more products away from them,” Dawn Carlson, a lobbyist for PMCSI, an organization that represents 2,000 outlets, including Kum & Go stores, told the newspaper. “This would bring another product into retail sales.”


Despite strong opposition from Republican lawmakers, the Democrat-controlled Iowa Senate approved the plan earlier this week. The House is expected to vote on the proposal soon. The idea was introduced late in the session as an amendment to a budget bill.


Currently, in Iowa, it is illegal to sell alcohol beyond beer and wine in the same space where consumers purchase gas or other goods. To sidestep this law, some gas stations have created a separate room with its own door and cash register where they can sell bottles of hard liquor.


With cigarette sales down across the state, if the proposal becomes law, it could help the c-stores gain more sales.


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