Arkansas ABC board grants Costco liquor license

Business

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Shoppers at the soon to open Little Rock Costco will be able to raise their spirits while picking up their bulk buys. 

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board unanimously agreed Wednesday to give the big-box store a retail liquor permit. 

Shoppers like Katherine Herrington said she can’t wait to roll her cart into the big box store.

“I’m very very excited,” Herrington said, “It will be nice to have some options.”

Along with milk and eggs, she will now be able to add liquor to her shopping list thanks to this vote.

“See what the options are and if there’s something new to try that maybe I can enjoy and kick back on a hot summer day like today,” Herrington said.

According to Scott Hardin, a spokesperson for Alcoholic Beverage Control, the company was previously approved to sell wine and beer inside the Little Rock store, which opens July 21. The company also applied to operate a liquor store on the same property. 

ABC Director Doralee Chandler initially denied the retail liquor application due to opposition from a State Senator. On Wednesday in a 5-0 vote, the ABC board overturned the denial after hearing testimony from people in support and those in opposition of the permit. 

The board received letters of support for the store’s permit from Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr., Vice-Mayor Lance Hines and the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. 

According to the ABC, a letter of opposition against awarding Costco a retail liquor was submitted by State Senator Kim Hammer (R-District 33), who represents parts of Saline and southwestern Pulaski County. 

“I think we need to keep the playing field as level as we can for our local independent businesses that are owned by in-state entities,” Hammer said., “I think anytime you have a big box retail store coming in that has the purchasing power that they do that it is going to affect your local small business.”

According to Hardin, Costco’s liquor store will have a separate entrance from the main store and there will not be a membership requirement to enter. 

Beer and wine will not be sold in the liquor store.  

Hardin said a Sam’s Club in northwest Arkansas also has a retail liquor store on-site, but with a separate entrance than the main store. 

According to the ABC spokesperson, a retail liquor permit does not allow liquor to be sold within a regular retail store and it must be a standalone operation. 

Costco is expected to have both the beer and wine permit and the retail liquor permit by opening day, pending a final inspection.  

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