INDIANAPOLIS, IN - A push by Walgreen to sell beer and wine on Indiana store shelves has fueled a long-standing conflict among Indiana's alcoholic beverage retailers, the Indianapolis Star reports.
Walgreen's requests for new alcohol-sales permits would put beer and wine in all but a handful of its 53 Central Indiana stores. And that type of saturation has opponents concerned, who maintain that the Indianapolis area already has enough alcohol permits €" more than 5,000 cumulative at bars, grocery stores, restaurants and convenience stores.
As such, the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers has filed a lawsuit, which has now delayed all 177 of Walgreen's permit requests.
All of this serves to underscore the need for Indiana to rewrite its alcohol sales regulations, according to the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Assocation (IPMCSA).
"The whole alcoholic code is in desperate need of a rewrite," said Scot Imus, executive director of the IPMCSA. "There are crazy policies that allow some entities to sell carryout on Sunday, but not others -- all sorts of inconsistencies and disparities. . . [For instance], liquor stores can sell cold beer, but other c-stores can only sell warm beer. This is particularly nonsensical when you consider liquor stores are twice as likely to sell to minors as other retailers according to state compliance checks."
Walgreen said that its interest in selling alcohol in Indiana is the same that it has sought in other states since last May. In Michigan, 70 percent of the company's 221 stores sell beer and wine. And while alcohol's return to the company's store shelves in St. Louis, Tucson and Palo Alto have stirred conflict, most of those cases involved stores in close proximity to schools or groups citing moral attitudes.
Walgreen said that beer and wine would take up less than two percent of each Indiana's store's shelf space, though it said that it expects it to generate five percent of sales.
"We're going to always be a drugstore first and foremost," Walgreen spokesman Robert Elfinger said. "We will never be a liquor store."
If the permits are approved, the retailer would sell unchilled beer (no sales of single bottles or cans), and low- and mid-priced wines Monday through Saturday.