Interesting happenings at the state ABC Board yesterday. The move to open beer sales at convenience stores at Fayetteville apparently will be limited for the time being to the two fortunate convenience stores recently approved. Until then, the state had long prohibited off-premise brew sale in Fayetteville anywhere but liquor stores. And yesterday the ABC held firm on Springdale — no grocery or convenience store sales will be allowed there.
Roger Collins, CEO of Harps Food Stores, testified that if convenience stores in Springdale begin selling beer, grocery stores will have to apply for beer permits as well to compete. Collins said Harps does not sell alcohol in Washington County now, and customers have not asked for it, but competition could force the company to apply for a permit.
Charles Singleton, attorney for Flash Market, said he did not believe the state Legislature intended that only liquor stores be allowed to sell beer. He said 39 businesses in Washington County have beer permits, 15 percent of them convenience stores. In comparison, 353 businesses in Pulaski County have beer permits, 69 percent of them convenience stores, he said.
Stephen Morley, attorney for Harps, said Springdale is a unique community.
“We’ve been able to preserve something that perhaps has been lost in other parts of the state,” he said.
Singleton said one way Springdale is unique is that “it’s a closed market. There isn’t any competition.”
Some arbitrariness in these decisions, seems like. Maybe the basis for a legal challenge?