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Liquor delivery shuts down

BY CATHRYN SLOANE | OCTOBER 25, 2010 7:20 AM

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As the weekend started Friday night, local liquor stores started their home deliveries.

That’s how it used to be.

A recently updated administrative code reversed a policy that had made it legal for stores to deliver alcohol to residences. And local businesses are worrying the change could hurt them.

Iowa law has always stated the home delivery of alcohol is illegal, but an administrative rule in the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division contradicted that, making it OK.

After someone anonymously reported this conflict, legal counsel members from the Alcoholic Beverages Division thoroughly examined their rules and pointed out the alcohol-delivery policy needed to be changed, said Tonya Dusold, the communications director for the agency. A letter was sent to liquor licensees Sept. 29, giving them official notice not to deliver alcohol to homes anymore.

Whateva … We Can Deliva, a local service that delivered anything from food to socks to ChapStick, recently chose to shut down because alcohol had been such a big percentage of its business, said owner Anthony Jones.

“I think [the new policy] is absolutely ridiculous,” he said. “It’s put a lot of people out of jobs.”

Dusold said those with liquor licenses have given them a great deal of negative feedback.

“It affects their business,” she said. “We’ve been trying to work with them to come up with temporary solutions.”

Jones bought his business in January from Edgar McGuire, who said he supports the new change because people were ordering liquor deliveries from other states — which brings down state revenue.

“There’s a reason for it, and it makes sense,” he said. “The state runs the liquor department, so they need you to buy locally.”

Jason Caylor, the manager of Liquor Downtown, 315 S. Gilbert St., said it’s too early to tell how the new change will affect his business, but his store used to do a good number of deliveries on the weekends.

“The line would get pretty long on those nights, so it was a nice service to have,” he said.

Caylor said he has met with some local legislators in hopes of getting the rule changed back.

The Liquor House, 425 S. Gilbert St., has not been greatly affected by the change in policy, said owner Jeremy Harrod. He said his store generally did not get a lot of requests for deliveries, most likely because it charged an additional $10, while Liquor Downtown did not charge any extra fees.

“On a general weekend, we’d get about four to five calls for it, later in the night,” he said. “[The new policy] won’t change a thing at all.”

Iowa City City Councilor Mike Wright said he sees both sides of the issue but thinks liquor-store delivery may have been a good system.

“Maybe it was a positive thing, keeping drunk people off the road,” he said.

Despite some negative feedback, Dusold said the Alcoholic Beverages Division wants to help the liquor licensees keep their businesses successful.

“If there are licensees out there that are struggling, we would like them to contact the licensing department, and we’ll work with them to come up with temporary solutions,” she said.


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