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    Indiana C-Stores Seek Beer Permits

    Store owners believe will help expand sales, package liquor industry claims alcohol sales will be "deregulated."

    MUNCIE, Ind. -- Indiana convenience stores are lining up to obtain permits to sell beer and wine before the state legislature limits the number of permits allowed in future sessions of the General Assembly, according to an Associated Press report.

    The number of requested permits -- which convenience operators think will help increase sales and the liquor industry believes will deregulate the sale of wine and beer -- have skyrocketed this year, to 142 stores that have applied for the grocery store permits that allow beer and wine sales. In 2005, only 46 stores sought beer and wine permits from the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission.

    "It could be that some convenience store operators who fear future legislative action are taking steps now to get a permit," Scott Imus, of the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, told the AP.

    The package liquor industry, which opposes the permits, want the industry more tightly regulated and claim that the sale of beer at every street corner will not help regulation efforts, the AP reported.

    "If we have thousands of new outlets selling alcohol, we've essentially deregulated how alcohol is sold," John Livengood, a representative of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers told the AP. If more convenience stores were allowed to sell beer and wine, legislation might be pushed to allow the sale of cold beer, which currently can only be sold at bars and liquor stores, Livengood added.

    "They know if they have cold beer, they would put the package stores out of business, and that's what they want," Livengood told the AP. "The Krogers and Meijers are selling gas below cost and it is killing convenience stores. Their argument is, 'Put liquor stores out of business to save us.'"

    Imus noted that the cold beer law is not being discussed at this point. "In states where convenience stores can sell beer, we're the only state without cold beer sales," he told the AP. "But we have not advocated cold sales legislation. I don't think anybody is talking at this point about introducing cold beer into that debate."

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