Everything’s bigger in Texas, even lawsuits
Customers already consider Wal-Mart a one-stop-shop for everything from groceries to hunting rifles. But if the company gets its way, Texas customers will soon be able to skip the liquor store run and purchase their spirits directly from Walmart while they shop for other household amenities.
In a suit filed at the federal court in Austin, Walmart claims that a Texas law preventing the sale of liquor by publicly-traded companies is unconstitutional. Currently the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission requires a package store permit for the sale of liquor, and will not issue the permit to companies, like Walmart, that are publicly traded.
Walmart points out a glaring loophole
However, through a loophole in the law, store owners with a package store permit are allowed to share their permit with a family member, then apply to the Alcoholic Beverage Commission for up to five more permits. It has been pointed out that this is how many of the chain liquor stores like Specs and Twin Liquors in Texas have been set up – by family members sharing permits. Walmart wants to get in on the competition.
Walmart argues that the ban on liquor sales by publicly-traded companies is unconstitutional and violates the Equal Protection Clause, the Commerce Clause, and the Comity Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
According to Walmart spokesperson, Lorenzo Lopez, the ban is contrary to “Texas’ belief in free enterprise and fair competition,” is unfair to consumers, keeps liquor prices artificially high, and discriminates against publicly-traded companies.
Sources tell us that sales would take place in a structure next to or adjacent to Walmart, much like their spirits sales in 25 other states.
Fair or not, Walmart lawsuit could hurt local stores
Together with its sister company, Sam’s Club, Walmart is already Texas’ largest seller of both beer and wine, and they’d like to add liquor to that list. If the suit is successful, it could be more convenient than ever for customers to purchase adult beverages in Texas. The suit could also be a disaster for locally-owned liquor stores, who are already competing with the growing chains like Specs.
The company is also working to lobby state legislators for a change in the law.