Roy L. Williams
Costco Wholesale Corp.
Costco is seeking permission from the Hoover City Council to sell liquor at its store on Galleria Circle.
Costco Wholesale Corp.’s effort to sell liquor at its Galleria Circle location has passed one major hurdle and faces another on Monday, July 20.
The request by Costco under the name Costco Wholesale Liquor for “conditional use approval for sale of off-premise liquor” is on the Hoover City Council agenda. On July 13, the Hoover Planning and Zoning Commission approved Costco’s proposal.
Clif Eason, an assistant professor at the Brock School of Business at Samford University, said the Costco request brings up an interesting issue. Alabama is one of the few states to both regulate the liquor industry and operate retail liquor stores (across the state, they are called ABC or Alcoholic Beverage Control stores).
“Sometimes I beg to wonder whether the Alabama approach is the right one- regulating an industry product while distributing it at the same time,” Eason said.
As a major wholesaler, Eason said Costco may be able to compete much better against ABC stores in terms of pricing and sales than smaller independent liquor stores.
“Anytime a competitor goes into an industry, it means lower prices and more variety,” Eason said. “That’s especially true of a big wholesaler like Costco. Some people may fear this will lead to more alcohol consumption, but I don’t think so. It just means some consumers may be switching where they buy alcohol to Costco.”
Efforts to reach Costco about the liquor sale request were unsuccessful. The Hoover Sun will follow up on this issue after the July 20 Hoover City Council meeting.