Md. General Assembly Considering Bill To Allow Beer & Wine Sales in Grocery, Convenience Stores

It’s something other states permit.

Annapolis, Md (KM) Marylanders would be able to purchase beer and wine in grocery and convenience stores if a bill being considered  by the General Assembly passes. Cailey Locklair is President of the Maryland Retailers Association, which supports this legislation. “It focuses in on priority funding areas in the state. A food retailer would have to meet very specific criteria to bring healthy food options to priority funding areas across Maryland. And if they do so, they can get a beer and wine license,” she says.

Those “healthy food options’ would include fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh, uncooked meat, poultry and seafood, dairy products, canned goods, frozen foods, dry groceries and baked foods and non-alcoholic beverages. They would have to designate a minimum of 50% of their square footage for the sale of food; or a minimum of 6,000 square feet and a minimum of 5% of the public area of the store for food and beverages.

Locklair says the license would only be for beer and wine sales;  hard liquor would still be sold at liquor stores.

Most grocery stores have a low profit margin, and Locklair says the sale of beer and wine could be a big help. “I think even bigger than that is this is an incentive to attract  new stores to areas of our state, whether suburban or urban, where people really do need more healthy food options,” she says.

Since 1978,, Maryland has prohibited chain stores from selling alcohol, and has denied alcohol licenses to those from out of state.

Locklair says this bill has a lot of support. “Across the board, it’s polled consistently at 70%. That really is a no-brainer. In some areas of the state, support soars to over 80%,” she says. “For consumers, most people are kind of confused that Maryland has not made this change sooner.”

Locklair also says this legislation, if it passes, will not endanger small, “mom and pop” operations around Maryland. “There is no data or fact to support the position that these small businesses go out of business,” she says. “In fact, these stores are able to exist side-by-side with grocery stores.”

A hearing on this bill is scheduled for Friday before the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs  Committee. At the same time, it will go before the House Alcoholic Beverages Subcommittee.


By Kevin McManus