Wal-Mart eyes a liquor license in Texas

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 100 views 

Adult beverages are one of the faster growing categories at Wal-Mart Stores and one of the ways the retail giants seeks to woo Millennials. 

But Texas law prohibits publicly held corporations from selling hard liquor or spirits. Wal-Mart is opposing that law with a suit recently filed in federal court, according to reports from Bloomberg News.

“Our Texas customers want added convenience when shopping for adult beverages. However, the current law prohibits publicly-owned businesses such as Walmart from offering spirits to its customers. This is counter to Texas’ belief in free enterprise and fair competition, limits our customer’s choice and keeps the price of sprits artificially high, all of which harm Texas consumers. Walmart believes the law needs to be changed to provide a fair and level playing field so we can offer our customers a full assortment of adult beverages as part of a convenient and comfortable shopping experience.," Wal-Mart spokesman Lorenzo Lopez noted to The City Wire in an email.

Here’s what Wal-Mart said about its inability to sell us vodka, scotch and other adult spirits in an open letter dated Dec. 4 to the Beer Alliance of Texas:

“This restriction is not only unconstitutional, but also inconsistent with free market competition and consumer choice — principles in which Texans strongly believe and steadfastly support,” Gerard Dehrmann and Silvia Azrai Kawas, Wal-Mart vice presidents, noted in the letter.

Wal-Mart ran into similar roadblocks in Arkansas as its home state only allows one liquor store permit per company. Wal-Mart opened a liquor store in its Sam’s Club in Fayetteville. It sells beer and wine in its other facilities located in “wet” counties.

In Texas, Wal-Mart has gotten around the law by contracting with another company to open a liquor store that’s attached to Sam’s Clubs. The Dallas Morning News reports that in these instances the liquor stores must have a separate entrance and leases space from Sam’s Club.

Bloomberg reports that Wal-Mart told the distributor trade group, a powerful lobby in Austin, that it didn’t want to disrupt the state’s sales system and that it counted on “strong partnerships” with the companies.