Naperville allows Sunday morning liquor sales, hesitates on alcohol displays

  • Naperville grocery stores such as this Jewel are required to display alcohol in separate sections. But the council could decide next month to lift that regulation and allow cross-promotion of liquor to be placed with foods throughout stores.

      Naperville grocery stores such as this Jewel are required to display alcohol in separate sections. But the council could decide next month to lift that regulation and allow cross-promotion of liquor to be placed with foods throughout stores. Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted10/21/2015 5:22 AM

Concerns about Naperville's brand and kid-friendly image dominated talks about two potential liquor law changes during a city council meeting Tuesday night.

One of the changes was approved, allowing Sunday liquor sales and service to begin at 7 a.m. -- instead of as late as noon -- as long as a full meal is served. The change makes liquor sales hours more consistent throughout the week.

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But the other proposed change will be back for more consideration in two weeks after council members discussed it for at least 90 minutes. That change could allow packaged liquor stores, shops with beer and wine licenses, grocery stores, specialty stores and pharmacies to display alcohol throughout their space instead of only in separate departments.

Council member Paul Hinterlong said he's hesitant to release the restriction on alcohol placement within stores because it could hurt the city's image and lead to setups he wouldn't consider "tasteful," such as large towers of beer cases.

"It's the brand that really concerns me of Naperville," Hinterlong said. "If I'm going to walk into Jewel with pyramids of beer, that's not the old Naperville that everyone knew and loved."

Council members also heard from Katy Leclair, CEO of 360 Youth Services, who said research has found that allowing more marketing and visibility of alcohol could diminish prevention efforts to help youths avoid substance abuse.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"To turn around and let alcohol be aggressively promoted without any kind of restraint I think would be a misstep," council member Kevin Coyne said.

But for Mayor Steve Chirico and some others on the council, the issue hinges more on creating policies that favor businesses and allow them to compete. Surrounding communities allow alcohol to be placed throughout stores, which grocers such as Jeremy Komar from Whole Foods said allows them to promote pairings of foods and wines or beers that complement each other.

"We need to allow our businesses to be profitable, to be the best that they can be and to manage responsibly," Chirico said.

Chirico added three points to the proposal that could allow alcohol displays throughout stores: liquor displays could not take up more than 20 percent of the square footage of grocery stores or 5 percent of pharmacies, all liquor must be displayed at least 10 feet from checkout areas, and all tastings must be conducted within liquor departments.

The council voted 6-3 in favor of removing the separate display requirement with the three conditions Chirico added.

Hinterlong and council members Patty Gustin and Rebecca Boyd-Obarski provided the opposition, but the vote was preliminary.

Another vote is expected to be taken during the council's next meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3, and Hinterlong encouraged more social service agencies and community members to share their views before the meeting.

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