Wholesale giant Costco has joined Wal-Mart and other retailers in the fight to let public corporations sell liquor in Texas.
Texans for Consumer Freedom, a group formed last month to lobby Texas lawmakers to loosen restrictions on the state liquor market, announced Wednesday that Costco Wholesale Corporation would lend its name to the effort.
“We are glad to be joined by Costco in our efforts to level the playing field for the retail sale of spirits so Texas consumers receive the choice, convenience and lower prices competition provides,” Travis Thomas, a spokesman for the group, said in a statement.
Texas law currently excludes publicly traded corporations from selling hard alcohol and limits the number of liquor stores a company can own to five. Two bills filed in February by state Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, and state Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, would repeal those laws.
Costco, a membership club that operates 25 warehouses in Texas, joins retail heavyweights Wal-Mart, Kroger and the Texas Association of Business in backing those bills.
“Costco proudly stands with Texans for Consumer Freedom in its efforts to eliminate the unusual Texas spirits laws that artificially restrict competition and prevent us from directly serving our over 1.3 million Texas members,” Executive Vice President Dennis Zook said in a statement.
Lance Lively, executive director of the Texas Package Stores Association, said in an email his group opposes the bills but that he did not have an immediate comment.
Current law requires liquor stores to operate in a separate location from other businesses, with their own entrance. If the proposal passes, Costco, Wal-Mart and other grocery stores still wouldn't be allowed to sell liquor in the same building as their other products.
Wal-Mart has also challenged state liquor laws in court, arguing that the ban on public corporations breaches consumer protection law.
Disclosure: The Texas Association of Business and Wal-Mart are corporate sponsors of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.