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    Indiana Convenience Stores Take Legal Steps to Sell Cold Beer

    Packaged liquor stores are the only retailers legally allowed to sell the product.

    INDIANAPOLIS -- A coalition of Indiana convenience stores has filed suit, charging the state's law that allows packaged liquor stores -- and not c-stores -- to sell cold beer is unconstitutional.

    The Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association (IPCA) claims in its lawsuit the state improperly privileges packaged liquor stores over other beer permit holders in violation of the equal protection guarantees of the U.S. and Indiana constitutions, according to NWI.com.

    "Responsible retailers and consumers have lived long enough under an antiquated law that governs the temperature at which beer can be sold among different classes of retailers," said Scot Imus, executive director of IPCA.

    According to the report, Indiana is the only state that allows liquor stores to sell cold beer while prohibiting convenience, grocery and drug stores from doing the same.

    David Bridgers, vice president of Thorntons Inc., said the prohibition on cold beer sales has led his company to avoid opening any new locations in the state for nearly a decade. The Louisville, Ky.-based retailer currently operates 26 stores in Indiana.

    "Not having the ability to sell what our customers want impacts our bottom line, and we will continue to invest in other states where the laws are more business-friendly to our company and where it makes the most economic sense," Bridgers said.

    Several attempts to change the laws that give liquor stores control over cold beer sales have repeatedly been defeated in the Indiana General Assembly. As a result, Imus said Indiana residents must pay liquor stores a premium when purchasing cold beer. In addition, the state loses sales tax revenue every time residents travel to neighboring states to purchase lower-priced cold beer at convenience stores, he told the news outlet.

    A spokesman for the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, whose membership includes package liquor stores, said he was still reviewing the lawsuit. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, who will defend the law, did not immediately return a request for comment.

     

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