Trig’s requests change to local liquor laws
City to review “Remote Sale Locations” item in liquor ordinance
BY NAOMI KOWLES
For the Star Journal
A management contingent from the Rhinelander Trig’s grocery store was on hand at the public safety meeting Tuesday to request a review of ordinances governing the display of liquor in “remote sales locations.” Currently, the city ordinance specifies that Class A liquors may not be displayed in unlicensed premises of a store, an ordinance that prevents retailers from displaying various alcoholic beverages outside of their licensed liquor area.
The ordinance stipulates that “No merchandise may be displayed or stored at the remote sale location.” Rhinelander Trig’s store director Don Theisen said the law kept them from cross-merchandising products like wine and cheese in display pairings, noting that other companies can market themed displays centered around brats, beer, condiments, wine, and cheeses.
“We are unable to do that in Rhinelander because we cannot promote any liquor items that are beer, wine items outside of the walls of our liquor department,” Theisen said. “Even though the whole store has the license, it has to be concealed. And we were hoping to get that removed for Rhinelander.”
Rhinelander police chief Lloyd Gauthier noted that Rhinelander liquor ordinances are more restrictive than many other municipalities throughout the state.
Alderperson Dawn Rog expressed concern that this would open up any store in the town to displaying liquor in large amounts throughout a store.
Another issue raised was the increased difficulty in preventing theft or unauthorized purchases of liquor after 9 p.m. Theisen said their sales system does not allow liquor sales after that time of night. Wisconsin state statute prohibits the sale of beer after midnight and the sale of liquor and wine after 9 p.m.
Opening up competition between smaller stores and retail giants such as Walmart was another concern the committee discussed.
“There’s reasons why restrictions are on this…we have bigger retailers that are in a smaller community. We haven’t heard our own residents saying, ‘This is what we want,’” Rog said.
Mayor Chris Frederickson said the changes would allow for fair competition with other locations throughout the state.
“I’m not a big fan of government regulation,” chairperson Steve Sauer commented, adding a suggestion that liquor could be returned to the licensed location after sale hours were over.
Special permits for limited events was another option raised as an alternative. The committee tabled all proposals until the city’s legal counsel can review the suggested changes and bring recommendations back to the public safety committee meeting next month.
More on the city liquor ordinance can be found here.