You may have heard of recent developments in our neighboring state of Oklahoma. Its House of Representatives voted to take steps toward modernizing Prohibition-era liquor laws.
Kudos to those legislators who listened to their constituents and voted their best interests. As chairman of Uncork Kansas, I am working to do something similar in our state.
When my great-grandfather J.S. Dillon opened his first grocery store in Hutchinson, his vision was to build a business that provided a convenient shopping experience for Kansas families. Our stores have changed dramatically since that first store opened more than 100 years ago. We have evolved from selling basic grocery items to include pharmacies, floral shops, fuel, bakeries, fresh sushi and banking services.
We learned to grow by continuing to listen very closely to what our customers want and adapting and changing based on their feedback. More than a century later, we are continuing to listen.
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We hear similar requests from our loyal customers over and over again: “Where’s the wine?” and “What do you mean I can’t buy regular beer here?” Like the vast majority of consumers in other states, they want the freedom to purchase single-strength beer, wine and spirits in their local grocery store.
One of the Kansas values that has stayed with me my whole life is the importance of a strong, free-market economy. It is what makes our entire system work. The best businesses – the great ones – are able to take on new competition head-on, adapt and prosper.
Let’s look at the facts: 45 other states currently allow single-strength beer sales in grocery stores.
We all know liquor-store owners don’t like this legislation. I understand their anxiety about change. For 60 years, they have enjoyed their legally constrained monopoly and have never had to worry about new competition, industry developments or changing customer desires. A more competitive but still regulated environment will force everyone to up their game and better serve the customer and community.
Encourage your local legislators to vote your best interests. Encourage them to vote for free-market principles. Encourage them to support Uncork Kansas.
Dave Dillon is a retired CEO of Kroger.