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One Massachusetts-based convenience store chain announced this month a new effort to break a state stranglehold on beer and wine sales.
Cumberland Farms filed a proposed ballot measure with the state. The chain, affectionately known as "Cumbies," boasts nearly 600 locations across New England, Florida, and New York. And even though there are more than 200 Cumberland Farms locations in Massachusetts alone, current law means that only seven locations are allowed to sell beer and wine. Seven out of 200!
That's because the state caps the number of liquor licenses any single retailer may own. And even that pitifully small number of seven required a fight. Under a 2011 compromise between supermarkets and small liquor stores, the number will balloon next year for chains such as Cumberland Farms, from seven to nine. That's peanuts.
If that doesn't sound good enough to you, either, then you're not alone. Last year, in a lengthy report, a task force of the Massachusetts Alcohol Beverages Control Commission made sweeping recommendations for grocery stores that included eliminating the cap on retail alcohol licenses.
Matt Durand, policy director for Cumberland Farms, told Boston.com in an interview last week that it was time to put the state's "archaic laws" around alcohol sales and convenience stores to bed. If the company's proposed ballot measure succeeds, it would phase out the cap and also let cities and towns decide, under a new licensing system, whether to allow convenience stores to sell beer and wine to retail customers.
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