Local Government and State Government and Retailers and Pharmacies and Alcohol sales and Government & Economic Development and Retail and Real Estate & Retail

Hearings on Walgreens' bid to sell alcohol continued

March 1, 2010

Hearings scheduled Monday morning to consider Walgreens’ requests for new alcohol permits at several of its stores in Marion County have been continued.

The Local Alcoholic Beverage Board was set to hear requests for 10 of 29 permits the Illinois-based drugstore chain is seeking in the county. But the board granted the retailer a continuance to give it more time to prepare.

Eight of the permit requests now are set to be heard April 19. Applications for a store in Beech Grove and another in Lawrence are set for May 3.

Walgreens is requesting the right to sell beer and wine in at least 53 stores in central Indiana, including 29 in Marion County. Because of the continuance, the beverage board could begin hearing some of the other 19 requests for permits as soon as March 15, its next scheduled meeting.

Walgreens stopped selling alcohol more than a decade ago. But competition, mainly from rival Rhode Island-based CVS Caremark Corp., is prompting the change in policy.

That is sparking opposition among local community groups such as Drug Free Marion County and the Marion County Alliance of Neighborhood Associations. Representatives from both were among several concerned citizens prepared to contest the permits at the Monday hearing.

Norman Pace, the neighborhood alliance’s director for Warren Township, said two of the Walgreens seeking permission to sell alcohol are across from educational facilities.

He further argued that Indianapolis already has enough alcohol permits—more than 5,000—at bars, restaurants and grocery and convenience stores.

“We have already exceeded the capacity,” he said. “They’re handing out these alcohol permits like candy in a candy store.”

Nancy Beals, prevention program coordinator at Drug Free Marion County, concurred.

“It’s not that we don’t want Walgreens to sell alcohol,” she said. “We just don’t want the over-saturation.”

The alcoholic beverage board cannot grant permit approval. It only makes recommendations to the Indiana Alcohol Tobacco Commission.

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