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Wal-Mart liquor plan rejected

Indiana’s Alcohol & Tobacco Commission last week ruled against a liquor license for Wal-Mart’s Supercenter in Corydon.
‘I’m amazed and still glad that the state turned them down,’ said Marcell Schoen of Elizabeth, who chairs the Harrison County Alcohol Beverage Commission. ‘I didn’t think they needed that liquor license at Wal-Mart.’
The three-member ABC in Corydon and State Excise Police Officer John Senefeld of the Seymour office tied on a Feb. 1 vote to give or deny the license. The issue then went to the state agency for a decision.
Senefeld and Fred Kellum of Depauw, a member of the Harrison County ABC, voted in favor of the license; Schoen and new board member Carl Duley of Corydon were opposed.
Wal-Mart has until the end of the month to appeal the March 15 ruling. Otherwise, the retailer can reapply in a year.
Wal-Mart’s Indianapolis attorney, Lisa McKinney Goldner of Bose McKinney & Evans, said Wal-Mart does plan to appeal.
In a letter to the Indiana Alcohol & Tobacco Commission, dated Feb. 15, Goldner called evidence presented at the hearing ‘hearsay,’ and ‘allegations’ of lawsuits against Wal-Mart in other states were unsubstantiated and unrelated to the permit request.
In the two-page letter, Goldner wrote: ‘Wal-Mart is qualified to hold a permit and has an excellent business reputation worldwide.
‘It employs over 36,600 associates in Indiana and has a very good compliance record with the ATC. Our client meets all of the qualifications to hold the permit … and it is, once again, unfortunate to see a company that provides enormous financial benefits to the State of Indiana treated in the manner exhibited by this local board … ‘
But, much like David slew Goliath in the Old Testament (1 Samuel 1:17), Corydon attorney Gordon Ingle feels he, too, has conquered a giant, in this case, Wal-Mart.
‘I think it was a local issue, and there was certainly overwhelming evidence at the hearing that it was bad for the community, and the community didn’t want it,’ Ingle said. ‘I’m glad they denied the permit, and that’s good for the town. This is just another thing that would have taken people from the downtown area.’
State commission members did not hold a second hearing; rather, their decision was based on written comments, information and oral statements made at the Feb. 1 Corydon hearing, Ingle said.
He added: ‘My biggest concern as an individual was that children would have access to it. At liquor stores, you have to be 21 to go in, and that’s the way it should be.’
Duley said although youngsters would not be allowed to purchase the liquor, that’s not the only way the merchandise could have been obtained. Referring to an anti-theft device Wal-Mart planned to use, Duley said, ‘For anything that’s made, somebody is ultimately smart enough to figure out how to undo it.’
The liquor, he said, would be displayed in aisles accessible to all shoppers. ‘It would be setting right out in front of them,’ he said. ‘At liquor stores, they will be stopped at the door.’
Ingle represented Corydon Holiday Liquors and First Capitol Liquors in their opposition to the national retail chain obtaining a liquor license here. The store already has a beer and wine license.
John E. Colin, owner of Holiday Liquors, said he’s pleased with the ruling.
‘It wasn’t the idea they would put us out of business, but they would have hurt us some,’ Colin said. ‘You know, they give things away, below costs. They have been known to do things like this.’