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Liquor store owners pack Capitol to protest end of minimum prices law

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HARTFORD -- The prospect of cheaper booze brought another round of frustration for "mom and pop" package stores, and a huge crowd at the Capitol.

They packed the state Capitol complex to protest the governor's proposal to get rid of the state minimum on alcohol prices.

The state Commissioner of Consumer Protection, Jonathan Harris, testified before the General Law Committee Tuesday that there would still be a floor for pricing.  Senate Bill 14 ensures that no store can sell below what it paid per bottle.

Malloy says the current practice is unfair to consumers and hurts state revenues, but store owners disagree.

There would also be continued restrictions against discounts for buying in bulk.  Package stores, however, said the big box stores can buy a lot more and store a lot more, so when wholesalers raise prices, the bigger liquor stores would still have plenty in stock to sell cheaper than the "mom and pops" could.

"We don't have the revenue or the resources to operate at cost for too long, they can do it until we close shop because we can't," Shelton package store owner Anita Stock said.  "And then they are free to raise prices."

Package stores fear if the state minimum is lifted, the protection against quantity discounts would be next.

According to the Associated Press, the Connecticut Package Store Association has said it believes hundreds of small liquor stores will go out of business if the bill passes.

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