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Grocery Store Applications for Wine Permits Pour Into ABCLock Icon

2 min read

The Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Division began accepting applications for grocery store wine permits one week ago, a development permitted by the Legislature’s passage this year of Act 508, which allows grocery stores in “wet” counties to sell an expanded selection of wine.

From Oct. 2 through midday Thursday, the division had received 85 applications, according to Scott Hardin, a spokesman for the state Department of Finance & Administration.

“They’re arriving daily and quickly, so we anticipate that number will grow to several hundred over the next few months,” Hardin said.

Once the application has been received, the ABC has to be in possession of the application for a minimum of 30 days before the ABC director, Mary Robin Casteel, can make a decision.

The board then votes to accept or deny the director’s decision at the next board meeting, which is Nov. 15. For the applications approved at that meeting, permits would be issued immediately, likely the next day, Hardin said.

That means, he said, that the expanded selection of wine should be on many grocery store shelves by mid- to late November.

For its part, Kroger is ready to go. A Kroger spokesman told Whispers that the company, based in Cincinnati, had applied for the licenses for many of its stores and that applications for 15 stores were currently being processed. “We had about six applications that had to be resubmitted due to a few edits,” said spokesman Teresa Dickerson.

“The goal is to have wine stocked in our stores by Thanksgiving,” she said in an email. “We are not 100 percent sure, but that is what we are shooting for.”

The legislation that prompted fierce opposition from a number of liquor stores in Arkansas allows grocery stores to sell wines from any winery. They previously had been limited to wine from “small-farm wineries,” those that don’t produce more than 250,000 gallons of wine per year.

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