E-Z Mart First to Sell Beer in Arkansas Town

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E-Z Mart First to Sell Beer in Arkansas Town

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- After decades of resistance by local Fayetteville, Ark., officials, an E-Z Mart on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. is the first c-store to sell beer in the town.

According to the Northwest Arkansas Times, the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Board granted the permission on a 3-2 vote.

"We're very excited about the opportunity to be the first convenience store up there selling," said Bubba Kirkland, vice president of merchandising for E-Z Mart, based in Texarkana, Texas.

Kirkland told the Times they installed temporary coolers in the store to store the beer.

The Fayetteville police department and city officials resisted efforts in the past to allow beer to be sold at convenience stores, reportedly arguing that liquor stores are a more controlled environment.

Late last year, however, area stores submitted more applications in an effort to break the beer sale barrier in Fayetteville. While other E-Z Mart locations were rejected so far, one other location – on the same street, but operated by Flash Market—was approved, but that store has not yet started selling beer.

The Times reported Fayetteville Police Chief Greg Tabor formally opposed allowing the sales on the grounds that a convenience store has a "hustle and bustle" environment. He argued this could lead to clerks being less careful with checking identification.

Kirkland claimed they provided a lot of training to the employees before Wednesday on the importance of checking identification.

"Our main thing was the training of the employees to be responsible sellers," Kirkland said.

Kirkland said they had employees at the store attend a company training program administered by the corporate office, and representatives from Alcoholic Beverage Control conducted a training session for the store employees.

A Fayetteville police officer also spoke to the employees at one of the sessions, Kirkland said.

"We kind of went above and beyond what we normally do since this is a new area for [E-Z Mart] alcohol sales," Kirkland told the Arkansas newspaper.

Beer will only be sold during the hours of 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.; the store’s scanner system is programmed so that beer products will not scan during the prohibited hours to prevent an accidental sale, Kirkland maintained.

E-Z Mart is in the process of applying for permission to sell beer at two other stores in Fayetteville.

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