Arkansas wine law change creates more options for customers and more competition for local stores

A change in Arkansas state law now allows grocery stores and some convenience stores to sell wine from large producers and wine from all over the country. Previously, the stores, including Walmart, were only allowed to sell wine from small batch farms.

"Things are changing," Railway Winery Owner and Wine Maker Greg Schneider said.

Schneider says part of that change includes the new legislation that makes more wine available in more stores in a state that still has 35 dry counties.

"Social perception, you know, the last few years we have gotten more counties that have gone wet, more people are becoming more accepting of it," Schneider said.

Schneider says he welcomes the change that takes away old restrictions on what wines big box stores can sell.

"It is going to bring more people the availability of different kinds of wines and so there is more of a chance they'll find one they like and the more people that like wine, the better the marketplace in general for the wine industry throughout America."

More wine options may be a good thing for consumers, but some Eureka Springs liquor stores say the recent change is bad news for them. At Alpine Liquor, the owner says, some wines that used to only be in stock at these specialty stores will now be available in big box stores, which forces liquor stores to focus more on selling craft more wine and beer whose producers are too small to distribute to the big box stores.

Despite the wider variety offered at bigger stores, some customers say they'll stay loyal to local.

"It's better for the community. It keeps everybody working. The more personal effect that you get it a lot better too," Mike Vaughn said.

This change went into effect in mid-November. Some liquor store owners say it will likely take some time to see how much of an impact it'll make on them.