Retailers, Dallas Businesses Fight for Right to Sell Alcohol

Retailers, Dallas Businesses Fight for Right to Sell Alcohol

The group behind November’s ballot measures to expand the sale of alcohol in so-called “dry” areas of Dallas has raised nearly $1 million--mainly from grocery stores, restaurants, real estate developers, hotels, and other businesses that stand to benefit from being able to serve or sell beer and wine to customers.

Retailers have contributed the most money (about $700,000), followed by restaurants and hotels (about $140,000), commercial real estate companies ($106,000), and community members (nearly $3,000), said Gary Huddleston, co-chairman of the Keep the Dollars in Dallas campaign and an executive at Kroger, the supermarket corporation.
The money has been used for the petition drive to add the two initiatives to the ballot. Legal costs, advertising, and other campaign expenses have absorbed some of the budget, Huddleston said.

In less than two weeks, Dallas residents will decide whether to eliminate dry areas citywide for retail beer and wine sales, largely in the southern sector. They’ll also vote on a second initiative to let restaurants in dry areas sell drinks to customers without requiring them to join a private club.

The Keep the Dollars in Dallas campaign says additional sales tax revenue from expanded alcohol sales could help the struggling city. New sales could generate $33.4 million in additional tax revenue annually and create 29,000 jobs in Dallas, according to an economic study by Waco economist Ray Perryman. A city of Dallas report estimated $11.3 million in annual sales tax benefits. But opponents contend that expanded beer and wine sales would increase public intoxication, impaired driving, and other violations.

“In today’s atmosphere, we would not seriously look at a site where we could not sell beer and wine,” Huddleston said of Kroger’s expansion. “Beer and wine sales typically account for 5 percent to 8 percent of a store’s total sales, but they also tend to increase other sales,” he added.