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Starbucks to Sell Wine, Beer in CA, IL, GA

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. | Last updated on

Starbucks will soon be selling beer alongside its usual assortment of coffee, pastries, and Frappuccinos. The company plans to start its new venture in select stores in California, Illinois, and Georgia. Some may think Starbucks and alcohol make a strange mix.

It's simply the retailer's latest move to expand its offerings. The company also plans to sell "premium" foods like small plates alongside its alcoholic beverages.

Owners of coffee shops and pastry stores across the nation might be cringing right about now. The same goes for owners of mom-and-pop liquor establishments. Starbucks may soon be competing for their customers.

But this is old news in certain parts of the country. Starbucks already offers alcoholic beverages in some of its chains in Washington and Oregon. There, the beers are $5 each. A glass of wine goes for $7 to $9.

The company wishes to create a "warm and inviting place" for customers to come and "unwind and connect with the people they care about," according to senior vice president of U.S. Operations Clarice Turner.

Business owners that wish to compete with Starbucks by offering alcoholic beverages should be aware of certain regulations. Most states require businesses to obtain liquor licenses before they can sell alcohol. There may also be state-specific restrictions on alcoholic beverages.

Also know that there are tax implications. Retailers that sell alcohol typically need to pay special taxes and retain records with the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

So before you decide to follow in Starbucks and sell beer, take pause. Make sure you know what your state's alcohol-related laws are. And if you need further clarification, consult a business attorney.

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