NJ liquor store owners form business association

Kimberly Redmond//May 25, 2023//

Bar with bottles of alcohol
Bar with bottles of alcohol

NJ liquor store owners form business association

Kimberly Redmond//May 25, 2023//

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Liquor store owners in New Jersey are speaking out against proposed changes to the state’s liquor licensing system.

In May 25 press release announcing its launch, The Garden State Liquor Retailers’ Association (GSLRA) said the group will be dedicated to safeguarding the interests of family-owned businesses, particularly minority and immigrant entrepreneurs, in the liquor retail industry.

“Protecting and promoting the interests of our diverse membership is at the heart of what we do,” said Amrish Vakil, president of GSLRA, “By standing up for social justice, equity, and the preservation of Main Street values, we aim to create an environment where small businesses can thrive, contribute to their communities, and play a vital role in New Jersey’s economic growth.”

According to Vakil, the organization will play a leading role in championing policies that protect mom-and-pop stores, safeguard community investments and prevent big box stores from gaining an unfair advantage at the expense of local businesses.

“Through education, advocacy and collaboration, GSLRA strives to foster a fair and thriving liquor retail industry in New Jersey,” said Kalpesh Maru, vice president of GSLRA, “An industry that benefits not only its members but also local communities and the state as a whole.”

A spokesperson for the group told NJBIZ GSLRA has about 62 members and counting.

The official launch was announced a day after the Assembly’s oversight and reform committee heard a series of measures that seek to loosen the state’s Prohibition-era liquor license laws.

The bills under consideration are competing with Gov. Phil Murphy’s larger proposal to gradually increase the number of available liquor licenses statewide. 

Survey says

New Jerseyans are sharply divided over Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposal to expand the number of liquor licenses available in the state, according to poll results released in February. Click here to read the findings.

During the May 24 proceedings in Trenton, coalition members were present to advocate for “justice, equity and the preservation of Main Street values that contribute to the strength and vibrancy of New Jersey communities.”

The GSLRA said it “firmly supports measures aimed at maintaining the current limit of the number of liquor licenses any one individual or entity can hold” and “will oppose any measure that will devalue existing licenses secured through the efforts and hard-earned investments of members and their families, as well as direct shipment which poses a threat to the integrity of New Jersey’s alcohol distribution system and undermines the ability of small businesses to compete.”

Specifically, the organization is against Assembly Bill 1283, which would remove the plenary distribution license limit for certain stores, and A5461, which would allow municipalities to transfer inactive alcoholic beverage retail licenses for use in redevelopment areas and allow retail distribution and seasonal consumption licenses to be converted into consumption licenses.

At the assembly panel’s meeting, A5461 was voted on and passed over the objections of local liquor store owners, while A1283 was on the agenda for amendments only.