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N.H. Debates Later Beer, Wine Store Sales

CONCORD, N.H. -- The New Hampshire House of Representatives will consider extending the hours for beer and wine sales at retail when members meet on Wednesday.

Current state law allows convenience stores and grocery stores to sell beer and wine until 11:45 p.m. House Bill 120 would extend the hours to 1 a.m., according to a report by the Eagle-Tribune.

A House panel reviewing the move voted 11-9 in opposition to longer hours, though.

"Members of the majority believe that New Hampshire's adults are capable of taking care of their alcohol shopping needs within the hours currently in our statute, and that extending those hours is unnecessary and not responsible public health policy," Rep. Ruth Heden (D-Milford) wrote in a report for the Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee.

"Alcohol sales in New Hampshire are robust, coming in over $1 billion per year," Heden added. "At the same time, alcohol abuse costs New Hampshire over $1 billion per year, mostly in lost worker productivity."

But in a report for the minority, Rep. John B. Hunt (R-Rindge) said the bill simply treats stores the same way as bars and restaurants, the newspaper reported.

"The amendment mirrors what we passed and is now law, allowing restaurants to stay open later if authorized by their towns," Hunt wrote. "The minority believes that it only makes sense to do the same for stores that sell beer and wine. Not only is this good for the tourist business, but it also is more convenient for those who work second shifts and do not get off work until 11 p.m."

Some store owners who sell beer and wine told the newspaper they weren't sure the change in hours would affect their business.

"We close at 10 [p.m.]," said Ketul Patel, who operates Londonderry Quick Stop Convenience Store. "We don't worry about 12 [a.m.] or 1 [a.m.]."

Owner Denise Young of Dusty's Convenience in Salem agreed. She said her store closes at 8 p.m. and most stores she is familiar with close by 11 p.m.


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