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6:51 PM Thu, Sept. 20th

Prescott Council supports Safeway's liquor-sampling license application

PRESCOTT - With minimal discussion Tuesday, the Prescott City Council endorsed the bid by two local Safeway stores to have the right to conduct "samplings" of beer, wine, and liquor.

In two 6-0 votes, the council recommended approval of the applications by the White Spar Safeway store and the Willow Creek Safeway store to have sampling privileges. (Councilwoman Lora Lopas was absent from the meeting).

While Councilwoman Mary Ann Suttles brought up several questions about how the two stores would handle the samplings, the tone of the discussion was generally positive.

Suttles said she had heard "some misunderstandings" among residents about how restrictive the Safeway employees would be in dispensing the samples.

Among the questions Suttles said she has heard was: "Will high school students be coming over and drinking at lunch?"

But Janice Louise Martin of Safeway said the store employees would use restrictions similar to those that currently are in effect by the liquor vendors who conduct occasional samplings at the stores.

Martin stressed that Safeway employees would be doing the samplings mostly to educate customers about wine, and would conduct the samplings typically around the holidays.

Those are the times when customers who do not frequently buy wine might need advice about what to purchase for their holiday events, Martin said.

"You will almost always find it around Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and Valentine's Day," Martin said of the samplings.

Safeway based its applications on a new law that the Arizona Legislature approved this past summer, creating a new sampling license.

Although the new law does not require the stores to cordon off the area where the samplings would take place, Martin said Safeway would continue to take that step - similar to the way previous vendor samplings have occurred.

Martin added that the law restricts the samples to just three ounces of beer, one ounce of wine, and one ounce of spirits per customer.

The city's positive recommendations now go to the Arizona Department of Liquor License and Control, which will make the final decision on Safeway's application for the new Series 9S liquor licenses.