Massachusetts Voters to Decide C-Store Alcohol Sales

A Cumberland Farms-backed ballot initiative seeks to allow retailers to sell beer and wine. 

June 01, 2020

BOSTON—In 2019, Cumberland Farms proposed a ballot initiative in Massachusetts that would let retailers sell beer and wine at any of their stores, with no cap on the number of locations, as reported in the NACS Daily. The Massachusetts Package Stores Association (MSPA) opposed the proposal, saying the plan would hurt local package stores.

Just last week, however, Universal Hub reported that the Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts ruled that voters will get to decide the answer through a ballot question. The MPSA filed a suit with the court, claiming the ballot question was confusing and provided unrelated questions, though the court disagreed.

As things stand, chain stores have the same restrictions and limits as package stores: Each business can have liquor licenses for only nine locations. This is not ideal for the nearly 200 Cumberland Farms stores or many other national and international retailers in Massachusetts. The ballot question also proposes creating a fund for the Alcoholic Beverages Controls Commission to hire one investigator for every 250 new licenses issued to enforce the new rules, as well as the mandatory use of computerized ID scanners, according to Eater Boston.

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