COMING TO BENTON COUNTY: Retail alcohol sales.

  • COMING TO BENTON COUNTY: Retail alcohol sales.

The Walton-heir-financed committee that successfully pushed a petition drive for an election to legalize retail alcohol sales in Benton County is celebrating the victory with a news release today. It was a runaway victory, not particularly surprising given the burgeoning “private club” industry in Benton County and the backing of the Walton family. (Two Walton grandsons gave almost $300,000 each to the $680,000 campaign, according to the most recent report.)

Liquor by the drink, Sunday sales and conventional restaurant booze permits are in the offing via various regulatory channels. The most interesting question is who’ll be first in line for the first package store permits.

The Macadoodles outfit, which successfully broke the Washington County liquor cartel and which is well-known after years as the first-stop choice for many an Arkie just over the Missouri line, would be a contender, I’d guess. Having visited their huge new store on I-540 in Springdale, I’m ready to say you can do a LOT worse in Arkansas, on both price and selection.

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Under existing Arkansas law, Walmart can’t open a liquor store, even separate from an existing Walmart or Sam’s Club. The groundbreaking case that gave them an outlet in Fayetteville limited the company to one store. But …. maybe the Walton charter school lobbyists, with ducks already in a row on that fight in the rent-to-own Republican legislature, could find a little spare time to loosen up archaic liquor laws, too. Then maybe we could get a Costco in Arkansas.