LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) — The next time you head to the grocery store you may notice a far bigger wine selection than before.
A federal judge denied a lawsuit by liquor stores that attempted to block a state law that takes effect Thursday. It allows permitted grocery stores in Arkansas to sell all types of wine.
Grocery stores were previously limited to selling only small-batch farm wines. The Alcohol Beverage Control Board approved more than 200 permit applications Wednesday.
Eric Herget owns Heights Corner Market and was one of the stores approved to sell all types of wine in his store.
"I'm excited about it. It's a new revenue stream for us,” Herget said. “We have always, since we’ve been open, been able to sell small farm wine off the shelf. This is just a whole new thing for us. With Kroger and Walmart and the big boxes having to do this, we need the same option.”
He’said he applied for the permit because he needed to compete with other grocery stores in town.
"We're not trying to be a liquor store. We're not trying to be a wine store. Our competing stores have the option so we must have it, or it would definitely hurt our business,” he said.
He also said having more wine options available is out of convenience for customers.
"The convenience factor is a must. That's what people want today,” Herget said. "Walk by, grab the bottle of wine and head to the register and head out the door."
But some liquor stores are concerned the change will greatly affect their business. 107 Liquor store owner John Crow was a lead plaintiff in the suit against grocery stores.
He said “We lost. Walmart and Kroger can now sell 2 of the 3 products that make up our entire business and they do it from preferential locations, under preferential conditions. All we wanted was a level playing field. They will be back for liquor in 6-10 years once we have a new governor and the legislature has churned. This will be the death blow. Their lobbyists are earning their pay. We are the definition of small business and we need the public’s support to survive.”
Herget said he understands where Crow and other liquor store owners are coming from.
"I've got a neighbor that's a liquor store owner and I just want to do the right thing. I want to help him exist, we need to exist and we'll find a way to do it together,” Herget said.
Permitted stores can start selling larger wine selections Thursday.