Controversy continues over liquor prices in CT - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Controversy continues over liquor prices in CT

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Controversy continues over liquor prices in Connecticut. (WFSB) Controversy continues over liquor prices in Connecticut. (WFSB)

Small package store owners are worried that they will go out of business because two large retailers are selling alcohol for well under state requirements.

The state mandates how much a bottle of booze can be sold for.  Eyewitness News visited 6 liquor stores on Tuesday and the owners said they aren't happy about alcohol being sold for well under those state regulations.  State officials have caught on and are now investigating.

A recent ad by Bevmax highlights its low liquor prices. For example Canadian Club Whiskey is being sold for $4 below the state's minimum price while Jameson Irish Whiskey was advertised for $10 lower than what's set by the state.

The ad shocked business owners including Ron Patel with S & P Wine and Liquors, who said they have no choice, but to follow the laws.

“That is just ridiculous,” Patel said. “How can you just go out there and challenge the state like that?”

Patel just opened S & P Wine and Liquors in Rocky Hill two months ago.

“We are still growing. We're fairly new,” Patel said. “We started from scratch.

Patel said seeing ads like this will put small liquor stores out of business fast.

“We cannot compete with them,” Patel said.  

Bevmax and Total Wine have been challenging the state's minimum per-bottle prices for liquor. They feel prices are set too high.

But the state doesn't feel that way.  Since liquor laws were violated, they told Eyewitness News "the Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Protection and the Liquor Control Commission have the statutory and regulatory authority to assess fines and/or suspend or revoke licenses."

We don't know how much that fine would be as the commission decides the amount. The state has opened an investigation into the companies.

But for small package stores, they said they think there is another way to make your voice heard.

“There are ways to fight the laws. Not the way they did it,” Patel said. “They can get away with that because they are a million, billion dollar companies right? And they have that money to do that.

A lawsuit was filed by Total Wine last week. It challenges Connecticut’s anti-competitive liquor pricing laws.  

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