Local Liquor Store Speaks Out Against the "Whiskey and Wheaties" Bill

Posted at 6:30 PM, Apr 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-28 08:13:15-04

TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) -- Wednesday, the Florida House of Representatives passed "House Bill 81," a bill designed to tear down the liquor wall. Some call it the "Whiskey and Wheaties bill," and it's been sent to Governor Scott for a final decision.

WTXL spoke with a local business owner who has been trying to protest this bill for weeks. One of his biggest concerns if this "Whiskey and Wheaties" bill becomes a law is that shops like his could close.

Currently, Florida law states that liquor sales must take place in a either a stand alone or side-store separated by a wall. This is why some grocery stores have a liquor store outside the main store.

If the "Whiskey and Wheaties" bill becomes a law, it would allow customers to buy whiskey and other spirits at the same place they buy their breakfast Wheaties and everyday groceries.

Allowing big box stores to sell liquor means that local stores could see a decrease in customers. For some companies, that could be fatal.

"We invest a lot of money in these businesses," says Manish Patel, the owner of Market Liquor. "We thought that the law we have will not let anybody to come and hurt us this way. So it's really going to put me out of business once they start doing it. I'm not going to be able to compete." 

Patel continued to tell WTXL that he put in a lot much money and has taken out numerous loans to pay for his storefronts and employees. If he had to close his stores, he would have to file bankruptcy, something no one wants to think about.

Adding liquor to big box stores could make it easier for people to steal bottles of alcohol.

Michael Doolan, a Market Liquor employee, asked, "You don't think there will be somebody that will snag a bottle and take it to the bathroom in a Walmart, chug part of it, and leave the rest of it there?"

It doesn't just stop at the store closures and thievery. There is a fear that by putting liquor and spirits on the shelves of grocery stores, kids will become more enticed to try it at a younger age. Patel brought up a good point. He told WTXL that he wouldn't bring his young children to a liquor store, so what would make a big box store any different?

If this bill becomes a law, it would go into effect at the beginning of July.