Pratt stores make room for liquor law changes.
Convenience and grocery stores in Kansas are shuffling product around to accommodate changes in beer and liquor sales brought by a new law that goes into effect on April 1, 2019. For years, lobbyists for these stores have pushed Kansas legislators to change restrictions on the sale of 6.0 beer, which until now, was only available in liquor stores. House Substitute for Senate Bill 13 lifts those restrictions and allows liquor stores to sell mixers and other non-alcoholic products formerly prohibited.
"It's really not going to affect what we do or sell here," said Nancy Briggeman at Wrights Retail Liquor Store, 1230 E. First Street in Pratt. "We will be able to add sodas, tonic water, limes, things like that which people ask for when they come in and aren't familiar with Kansas laws."
Up until now, Briggeman said she would usually direct people across the street to get their mixers, but when April 1 gets here she will just be able to show them the right shelf in the store.
"Mostly that will be the travelers who come through," she said. "We have a lot of loyal customers who probably won't jump ship just to go on a 5 p.m. beer rush to Walmart. It's not going to be that big of a thing."
Wright's Retail Liquor, owned by Steve Wright, has been in business in Pratt for 40 years.
Stores like Dillons and convenience stores around town are moving items around, getting ready for the new sales changes.
"We are just embracing industry-wide transitions with breweries moving from the production of 3.2 beer to only 6.0," said Sheila Lowrie, Dillons Stores corporate affairs manager. "We are enhancing displays and adding refrigeration because we will now be able to offer a wider variety of beers, including domestic imports and craft beers. We will have so many more options available for our customers, as they have been requesting."
Lowrie said Kansas-brewed beers would now be available from companies like Wichita Brewing Co., Walnut River, Defiance, Three Rings and Free State breweries. She also anticipated the introduction of a "pick-six" option for customers that would allow them to take a box and select six different kinds of beer, rather than just the traditional six-pack.
"Customers tell us that is what they want," Lowrie said.
At Walmart, Tiffany Wilson, Director of Communication said their stores, including the one in Pratt, do not anticipate any layout or marketing changes as a direct result of the change in state liquor laws at this time.
"Walmart customers told us that they wanted added convenience and choice when shopping for adult beverages," Wilson said. "With the modernization of the state liquor laws, we can now offer an assortment of beer as part of a convenient one-stop shopping experience. We are a strong believer in consumer choice and offering our customers low prices on the products they want. This change means we have yet another way to meet our customers’ needs and expectations."
Most stores are not restocking supplies of 3.2 beer as they prepare for the influx of 6.0 options.