Liquor retailers in Massachusetts are eager to see the number of alcohol licenses they can hold increase, and come election day, many Boston.com readers say Bay Staters should make it happen by casting their ballots.
Question 3 on this year’s ballot will gradually increase the maximum number of alcohol licenses any company or retailer can hold from nine to 18. More than 200 readers responded to a recent survey about the ballot question, and 75% said they plan to vote yes on the expansion of alcohol licenses in Massachusetts. Many readers agree with package store industry leaders who say the measure will increase options for consumers.
“Free market means lower prices for the consumer, less corruption on the license’s distribution and management, [a] stronger economy, and incentive to entrepreneurship,” Marcus from Medford said, noting that buying alcohol under the current setup might require “walking five blocks, instead of one, or … paying a large corporation middle-man [delivery] fee.”
In addition to the expansion of alcohol licenses, the measure would also require retailers to sell alcoholic beverages face-to-face by banning self-checkout sales, and would also allow them to accept out-of-state IDs from customers purchasing alcohol.
Leaders in the food and convenience store industry haven’t been as vocal in their opposition to this measure as they have been in the past, according to a report by the Boston Globe. Those against it, however, including Food Stores for Consumer Choice, argue that the proposed changes to how fines are levied will disproportionately affect their industry. If the measure passes, all potential fines will be based not just on alcohol sales but on total retail sales.
Food Stores for Consumer Choice called the ballot measure “an incomplete solution to a complex problem” and said it does “little to promote competition or expand consumer choice.”
Some readers don’t feel Massachusetts residents have any shortage of options for buying alcohol.
“Alcohol is already very available,” said L, a reader from Plymouth. “I don’t believe we need more licenses.”
Come election day, most readers said they’ll vote yes on Question 3. Ahead you’ll find a sampling of responses sharing why they’re casting their ballots the way they are.
Some entries may be edited for length and clarity.
Do you support the expanded availability of alcohol licenses?
“So far all the negatives I’ve seen attributed to this bill are around massive ‘what ifs.’ At the same time, the positives will mean more access to extremely valuable liquor licenses and remove ridiculous barriers for out-of-state visitors.” — Matt, Medford
“Our state’s alcohol laws are archaic. Limiting the number of licenses a company can have and limiting the number of licenses per town is just plain wrong. Look at states like New York and Florida. You are able to purchase alcohol pretty much anywhere. It’s good for retail and it’s good for the consumer. They should also move the issuing of licenses from town to state control.” — Tom, Roxbury
“I want to be able to purchase at a broader option of outlets than I currently can. When companies are limited to a small number of their outlets in offering sales, they will place these in the wealthiest areas with the largest store footprints. This reduces options for sales in higher real-estate cost urban environments.” — Alex, Roxbury
“More options are always good! Plus a convenience factor to customers if they do not travel to a liquor store.” — Stacey C., Reading
“I don’t believe the government should be controlling alcohol licenses so strictly. I think if we are looking to grow our local economy, support small businesses, and make Boston a destination for food, experiences, etc., then making alcohol licenses attainable for small businesses is important. I also think we need to work to eliminate the closed-door dealings that happen when trading or transferring existing licenses.” — Sam, West Roxbury
“Good for one, good for all. You are getting [alcohol] anyhow so why not vet and allow anyone that properly qualifies and follows the laws to sell it? Right now it appears a very protected industry where those who hold a limited license have the selfish ability to sell this right to the highest bidder. That’s just WRONG.” — Scott J., Framingham
“Fines based on all retail sales instead of fines based on just alcohol sales is clearly an attack on grocery stores. Too many changes on one ballot question. I think alcohol licenses need to be expanded, but this isn’t the answer. They need to go back to the drawing board on this one. There is a conflict of interest here. Either way the vote goes, the consumer doesn’t really win.” — Alyssa, Bellingham
“I don’t see the need to increase the maximum licenses for one company to hold from nine to 18 as this only helps the big companies and will squeeze out the little guy. This smells of big companies getting bigger and the neighborhood store will be unable to compete. Absolutely no need for this to pass.” — Dave, Woburn
“This bill needs a rewrite to exclude the “face-to-face” requirement. It is silly to include with all these other common sense measures. Currently, when I self-checkout, I am not allowed to continue with the order until my ID is verified. I’m not sure what is wrong with that.” — Dave, Boston
“This expansion only favors big chains and pushes out small businesses who can’t afford EIGHTEEN licenses. We need more small businesses carving out niche markets with better craft/local offerings beyond the same old 18 different case sizes of macro-beer.” — Matt D., Dorchester
Boston.com occasionally interacts with readers by conducting informal polls and surveys. These results should be read as an unscientific gauge of readers’ opinions.