1 Year Later: How Is The Strong Beer, Wine Law Impacting Oklahoma Businesses?

Monday, September 30th 2019, 5:53 pm
By: Dana Hertneky

Tuesday marks one year since the state's beer modernization laws took effect. The laws allow strong beer and wine to be sold in convenience and grocery stores. 

At Market Wine and Liquor in South Oklahoma City, owner Ken Kilbourn has felt the impact of the new law.

Read Related Story: Retailers Preparing After Strong Beer, Wine Arrives in Oklahoma

“Wine sales took a giant hit,” said Kilbourn. “I lost about 30 percent of my wine sales and they haven’t come back.”

Originally, he said beer sales were down dramatically as well, but are now back to about where they were.

“I think it’s taken a while for people to realize I’m not more expensive than Walmart,” said Kilbourn.

He's still in business, but according to the Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma, 21 liquor stores closed in the past year. There were 650 in 2018, and now there are 629.

“Unfortunately, it’s come true what we thought would happen,” said Bryan Kerr President of Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma. “Liquor stores are closing.”    

Kerr said he anticipates 200 stores will close before the market evens out.

But the Oklahoma Beer Alliance said the law has led to more options for customers.  

“Beer industry in Oklahoma is just booming,” said Lisette Barnes, President of the Oklahoma Beer Alliance. “You can see that from the craft beer and new breweries going in.”

She said that has translated into more sales overall.

“Our members are seeing double digit increases in their sales,” said Barnes.

Kilbourn admitted his margins are slimmer, but he believes a focus personal service will make sure his doors stay open.

“As long as I know my product and I know my customers, they are going to be repeat customers. And that’s how I’m going to fight the law,” said Kilbourn.