Walgreens plans to begin selling beer and wine at all 239 of its stores across Arizona.
The Deerfield, Ill.-based drug store chain will be seeking the licenses necessary to make the move, a company official said. Currently, 55 Walgreens stores in Arizona already sell beer, wine and hard liquor, and this is an effort to begin selling beer and wine chain-wide, said spokesman Robert Elfinger.
The new licenses would be for beer and wine sales only, he said.
Walgreens is the nation's largest drug store chain, with 6,997 stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
"It's a very moderate, very small selection in the stores," he said. "It's about four feet width of beer in a refrigerator and about 12 feet of wine on a shelf. It's less than 1 percent of the total shelf space of our store. There won't be any hard liquor, and also no single-serves, no 40 ounces, no quarts or anything like that. It would be just six packs, 12 packs, cases and then also wine."
Walgreens wants to make the move to sell beer and wine at all of its stores because of customer demand, Elfinger said.
"Moderate beer and wine (consumption) has become much more mainstream in America," he said. "You've got the Food Network and you've got all kinds of cooking shows that promote wine with your meal or different types of beer, a microbrew with your meal. We have some very convenient locations that would be able to serve this demand."Walgreens hasn't yet applied for any liquor licenses in Arizona, Elfinger said.
Each Walgreens store would have to receive a permit from the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control, said department spokeswoman Lee Hill.
"The license is issued by the state, but prior to issuance, each location would have to go through approval of the local governing body, whatever city, town or municipality the location is in," she said. "Our department issues the liquor license. It could be protested, and then it would go before the Arizona State Liquor Board. The liquor board has the power to deny a liquor license."
Walgreens has been in contact with the department but has no pending license applications, Hill said.
Walgreens isn't anticipating any opposition to its plans, Elfinger said.
"I think people know that we're a very responsible retailer, and I believe people know that we're going to provide a very safe atmosphere for existing customers to be able to purchase the occasional bottle of wine or beer," he said. "I think most people will be generally receptive to this idea."
Walgreens already has a good track record of compliance with liquor laws in Arizona, Elfinger said.
"The pharmaceuticals we sell, a lot of it is a very regulated product, and we have that reputation already, and beer and wine will be a very regulated product," he said.