Wal-Mart Is Suing Texas to Sell Liquor in Stores

By May Wilkerson 04/28/15

The big box giant says Texas' outdated liquor laws are unconstitutional.

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Wal-Mart Corp., is suing the state of Texas in a bid to sell alcohol in its stores, claiming the state’s laws on alcohol sales are unconstitutional, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Under Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission regulations, public companies with more than 35 shareholders, like Wal-Mart, are banned from selling alcohol. The state also prohibits a company from owning more than five liquor stores unless the additional permits are purchased from a blood relative.

In addition to filing a lawsuit, Wal-Mart has joined with other companies, like Costco Wholesale Corp., in backing legislation to reform the state’s outdated liquor laws, including a law which prevents liquor from being sold in the same store as groceries.

According to the lawsuit, Wal-Mart currently sells wine or beer in 546 of its Texas stores, and is licensed to sell liquor in 25 other states.

The lawsuit is part of the corporation’s nationwide efforts to sell more booze. Texas is pivotal, since it’s home to 560 Walmart stores, the most in the country. The corporation is also hoping to open liquor stores by many of its locations. Private companies are already permitted to do this, said Wal-Mart spokesman Lorenzo Lopez: “We want to be able to have the same opportunity.”

"Texas is the only state in the nation that allows private companies to own liquor stores while prohibiting public companies from doing so," said Travis Thomas, of the consulting firm Monument Group, hired by the retailers to support their case.

Wal-Mart is one of many retailers across the country looking to boost alcohol sales, since alcohol tends to draw greater profit than other goods, even in tough economic times. And with people increasingly shopping online, shoppers are still more likely to buy liquor in stores.

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.