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One Hundred Liquor Store Owners and Employees Protest Whiskey and Wheaties Bill

April 25th, 2017 by Jake Stofan
One hundred liquor store owners greeted House members as they entered the Chamber Tuesday.
The message on their shirts was clear.
Vote against a bill allowing  big retailers like Walmart to sell liquor on their shelves instead of in a separate adjoined store.
“That will severely impact my business. I employ six other people so we have a total of six families that are dependent upon my business staying open,” said one owner, Elizabeth Durling from Fort Meyers.
They said they can’t compete with the convenience big retailers would be able to offer.
“I can’t suddenly start selling diapers and candy overnight.,” said store owner James Simms from Panama City.
Nor can they compete with the prices.
Purav Shah owns multiple liquor stores in Tampa, he estimates if the bill passes he’ll have to make major cuts to keep his doors open.
“I’m pretty sure 20% of my staff would have to be relocated or reassigned,” said Shah.
The liquor store owners said it’s not all business.
They also don’t want their kids exposed to alcohol on the shelves at grocery stores.
The store owners filled many of the seats in the House gallery, then waited.
Sponsor Representative Bryan Avila said the the change won’t make Florida more deadly.
“The states that do not have a separation, those states have less incidents of alcohol related incidents,” said Rep. Avila.
But opponents noted the statistics are confusing.
“Seven of the ten states that have the highest hard alcohol consumed per capita, are states that have allowed hard liquor to be sold in big box retailers,” said Representative Randy Fine.
A final vote is set for Wednesday, if approved by the House, the measure will go to the Governor.
1700 liquor store owners and employees have signed an on line petition opposing the  change.

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