Saline County Businesses Preparing for Alcohol Sales

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SALINE COUNTY, AR – Catering, a cut of meat and even deer corn — Rick Bellinger’s roadside store has it all.

“If you stand still you start backing up, and I want to do that,” he said. “We want to proceed to continue forward and grow our business. “

Despite everything you can get here at Riverside Grocery – the one thing you can’t buy is a bottle of beer. But that’s something Bellinger hopes to change.

“We called ABC [the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board] to have the application mailed to the store,” Bellinger said.

He’s one of about a dozen businesses wasting no time applying to the ABC Board to try and fill freezer slots with adult fizz.

“A lot of our customers drink beer and they would have to drive down to the county line to purchase it,” Bellinger said. “And now they’ll come here.”

Saline County Attorney Clay Ford said he’s received phone calls to clarify what a wet country really means.

“There’s a lot of confusion and a lot of people think when you say liquor that means everything but there’s a big distinction between beer, wine and liquor,” he said. “A lot of people think that it will lead to bars in the county. But that’s not the case. The private club restrictions will remain.”

Stores like Bellinger’s, those hoping to sell beer and wine, are the only ones able to apply for permits at the moment.

“ABC will not start accepting applications for liquor store permits until April or May or next year,” Ford said.

It’s likely county line liquor stores won’t be happy to see the arrival of alcohol inside Saline County.

“Saline County has been a big revenue maker for them for year,” Bellinger said. “It’s going to have a negative impact on them. But they have to do what any good business does. They have to recover, adjust or go out of business. It’s just economics. I’m excited about making it happen and hopefully will be one of the first in the county to have it for sale.”

Once an application is submitted, a retailer must post a notice and publish a legal notice in the local newspaper. A 30-day comment period will commence. ABC will then have to decide whether to approve the permits.

According to ABC Director Michael Langley, more than a dozen requests for applications have been received since Monday. And if permits are approved, beer and wine could be on Saline County shelves by mid January.

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