FREDERICK, Md. -- A modest proposal to allow an expansion of alcohol sales limited to three locally-owned groceries in Frederick County Maryland has liquor store owners saying "no!"
"This is absolutely a threat to my business," said Dave Butler, a co-owner of Riverside Liquors, the county's largest liquor licensee.
Butler was reacting after the local Board of License Commissioners briefed local legislators on a series of alcohol issues the board believes the delegation might consider for action in the upcoming 2019 session of the Maryland General Assembly.
Among the ideas being floated is to allow alcohol sales in a select few locally-owned grocery stores. The local proposal would require a change in state law that prohibits grocery store sales.
One of the three stores is Common Market Coop, a member-owned natural foods store that wants to add specialty organic beer, wines and spirits to its store.
"We wouldn't want to be a threat to them," said Common Market Coop General Manager Bob Thompson. "We just want to serve a specific niche market for our customers who are looking for that option."
Other stores hoping to seek alcohol licenses are the Jubilee Market in Emmitsburg and Trout's Market in Woodsboro. Large corporate owned stores would not be considered in the Frederick County proposals presented to legislators.
But Butler, of Riverside Liquors, said he regards any change as the beginning of a slippery slope toward future sales in stores like Giant Food and Walmart.
Butler noted that Frederick County has 300 liquor license holders who are local small business owners that do a good job of serving the local market and providing jobs.
None of the members of the Frederick County delegation briefed on the proposals has taken a firm position on whether to attempt changes in Annapolis.
Maryland's General Assembly historically has killed any effort to bring alcohol into grocery stores.
During the 2018 elections, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot said he supports expanding alcohol sales into groceries.
The Comptroller's office is responsible for regulating statewide liquor law and taxation. Franchot was re-elected in November with 72 percent of the vote.