A line of spirits bottles at a local alcohol shop. (Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images)
St. Petersburg, Florida - For decades, hard liquor has been banned from being sold in grocery stores across Florida. Shoppers would have to exit the grocery store and enter a separate market to make such purchases.
It is a familiar issue for a local mother who we ran into at the Target in Pinellas Park.
"It's kind of embarrassing when you have a kid because you have to take your kid into the liquor store and it's kind of embarrassing," said Jennifer Hellenberg.
State Representative Greg Steube is co-sponsoring a bill that allows supermarkets like Walmart, Publix, and Sweetbay to stock their shelves with products like Jim Beam and Grey Goose.
"It doesn't make a lot of sense to require customers -- if they want beer and wine they have to go into the main store, but if you want distilled spirits you have to go into a separate building if you will," said Steube, the Republican representative for District 73.
He told 10 News that Walmart is a supporter of the efforts that would essentially tear down the wall that separates supermarkets from liquor areas.
"We as a legislature try to make it a deregulation environment for business and make it easy on consumers."
But there is a concern that putting liquor on supermarket shelves would make it easier for teens to access.
"I think they should keep it in the liquor store by itself ... with the shoplifting going on. Yeah, it's easy for them to walk right out," said Target shopper Donna Carow.
Steube dismisses that concern by countering that research shows that most teens get alcoholic beverages from family and friends.
"Regardless of whether you have a separate entrance for package liquor or you have beer and wine in a separate building, they're still going to get access to alcohol," he said.
The bill is still making its way through committee. No clear date has been set for a vote.