In a matter of weeks, United Supermarkets says it will sell beer and wine in its Slaton store, which is fueling a debate over who should sell alcohol in the area.
Alcohol sales have been legal in most parts of Slaton since 1967. Currently, the city has two liquor stores which have been in business for years. Many residents are now concerned that those local, family owned businesses will loose money and business by being in direct competition with United. Meanwhile, United officials say they are just responding to the demand.
For five years, Daniel Z's Clover Leaf has been one of the two liquor stores in Slaton. The other, BJ's, is just across the street. Down the road lies the next potential stop; United Supermarkets is weeks away from selling beer and wine in Slaton.
Clover Leaf employee, Diane Martinez said the competition doesn't bother her. "The way I feel, most of our customers come through the drive up window, so I don't know if it would affect us or not," said Martinez.
Das Blume Hause Owner, Bonnie Walker isn't against alcohol sales in general. However, she said so called "mass merchandisers," such as United want to use beer and wine to boost sales and revenue, which she says will take away from local businesses. "If United brings those in, what about the money-- the revenue those stores bring in are to support families. I think united has plenty," said Walker.
United Supermarkets Director of Communications, Eddie Owens said they're responding to a recent demand from customers who have asked for beer and wine to be available. "They knew it was an option for us and so our customers have spoken out as well that they'd like to have that option and convenience of one stop shopping," says Owens.
Meanwhile, at Clover Leaf, Martinez remains confident. She says she's received phone calls and comments from loyal customers saying they'll continue to support their local stores.
Sales should start as soon as united receives its TABC license in about six weeks.
As, previously mentioned, a 1967 election legalized alcohol sales in Slaton but now 38 years later, the fight to sell alcohol is dividing cities across the South Plains. Tuesday, May 24th on NewsChannel 11 at ten, we'll unveil DWI statistics county by county, addressing the question, is a dry county a safer county.