Liquor issue on ballot in Belpre

BELPRE – Voters in Precinct 1-B in Belpre in November will vote on whether Kroger can operate a Spirits Shop near its store on Washington Boulevard.

The Boards of Elections for Ohio and Washington County have certified enough signatures have been filed to put the issue on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Kroger wants to sell spirituous liquor Monday through Saturday in a shop about 200 feet from the store.

“We prefer a close-by location for the Spirits Shop as a convenience to our customers and so we will not take away any space for food and groceries in our store,” said John Lambert, spokesman for Kroger’s Mid-Atlantic Division.

Several benefits are available with Kroger’s selling spirits in Belpre, according to Lambert.

“First, Kroger will create a number of new jobs to staff the store,” said Lambert. “Second, the city of Belpre will experience a slight increase in revenue from sales tax, and third, Belpre will become a more popular destination, increasing economic growth in the community.”

Kroger has been selling beer and wine in its Belpre store for seven years.

“We have earned a reputation for strict compliance with Ohio’s laws and regulations over this time,” said Lambert.

If voters approve the ballot issue, Kroger will apply for a license with the state Division of Liquor Control. The division has announced plans to add new locations.

In Ohio, the state owns all liquor-selling operations, while private businesses such as Kroger serve as vendors. Prices are set by the state and vary only by the county sales tax.

In Ohio, Kroger has about 80 liquor operations, most of them inside stores.

“Kroger is a responsible vendor, and if we are allowed to be a state agency store in Belpre, we will bring the same level of experience and compliance that we have in other shops in Ohio,” Lambert said.

Kroger has invested more than $3.25 million in improving the Belpre store in the last three years. The store employs 150 associates and annually generates $600,000 in sales taxes.

The store offers online ordering. The Belpre store donates food to the Harvest of Hope Food Bank and includes a pharmacy and fuel center open daily from 6 a.m. to midnight.