OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Gov. Kevin Stitt has approved legislation intended to give smaller liquor stores more wholesale options in Oklahoma.
The bill Stitt signed Monday requires top brands of wine and spirits to be sold to all of Oklahoma's alcohol wholesalers. Currently, manufacturers of wine and spirits can designate a single wholesaler to distribute their products.
The bill alters a law that voters approved in 2016 allowing the sale of wine and strong beer in grocery and convenience stores and the sale of cold, strong beer in liquor stores. It took effect in October.
The voter-approved measure also allowed wholesalers to gain sole distribution rights for specific brands, benefiting some of Oklahoma's 11 wholesalers. But Tulsa-based Boardwalk Distribution failed to secure the rights to distribute any of the top 100 brands.
"It was an unintended consequence I think that happened on that original change," Stitt told The Oklahoman. "It's not going to affect anything with how consumers get their wine at the grocery store and the original changes that they voted."
Oklahoma-based and family-owned Central Liquor Co. and Jarboe Sales Co. were two long-operating wholesalers that secured partnerships with large, out-of-state distributors. Republic National Distribution Co. merged with Central to form RNDC-Oklahoma, and Southern Glazer's Wine and Spirits merged with Jarboe to form Southern Glazer's Oklahoma.
Boardwalk did not merge with a national distributor, and owner Bryan Hendershot has estimated that Boardwalk will lose $100 million in sales in its first year following the October changes. Hendershot subsequently pushed for changes that would grant his company the ability to distribute the top 25 brands of wine and spirits without securing exclusive rights to any.