MEDFORD, Ore. — The Oregon Liquor Control Commission is loosening restrictions on liquor stores looking to sell beer and wine. As of Friday, those stores can now apply to carry those items on the shelves.
Up until now, liquor stores have been divided up into two groups, exclusive and non-exclusive. In other words: can they carry beer and wine or can’t they. What this law does is potentially make it so that any store can become non-exclusive.
The decision to allow beer and wine in liquor stores was based on a year-and-a-half long test in which four stores across the state were selected to become non-exclusive. Now, any liquor store can apply on an individual basis to expand their selection, but local liquor store owners say they aren’t sure if they want to bother.
They say the decision to carry beer and wine means expanding shelf space and getting new refrigerators. They also say, with supermarkets and mini-marts just down the street, they’d have to find a way to make themselves stand out.
“I think most stores are going to have to take a very long, hard look. I don’t believe there’s going to be a rush to go from exclusive to non-exclusive,” said Bob Zeph, a Liquor Agent at West Main Spirits.
OLCC officials say of about 250 liquor stores in the state, 100 or so are already non-exclusive. Those are mostly in rural towns where there are too few people for standalone stores. In order to apply for non-exclusivity, stores will have to show a business plan and apply for new licensure.
The OLCC says they’re also looking into allowing non-liquor stores to sell liquors. As of now, 16 spots have been selected statewide for those types of stores, although none have been filled yet.