Wellington stores lose liquor licences

A number of small Wellington convenience stores have had their alcohol licences revoked by the Liquor Licensing Authority.

The separate decisions to refuse renewal of liquor licences for Crofton Road Foodmarket, Oriental Bay Store and City Stop on the Terrace were made at hearings earlier this month.

The issue is that the stores operate more like dairies than grocery stores. Alcohol sales in dairies were banned as part of the Alcohol Reform Bill last year.

In the case of City Stop on the Terrace, the authority reasoned the central location of the premises meant purchases were more likely to be impulse buys rather than ''food to be taken home for preparation and consumption''.

But owner Raj Patel disagreed and was planning on appealing the decision. ''My shop is a grocery store. I sell quite a bit of groceries and my record is clean. I've never sold to minors or anything like that.''

He said many central city hotel guests who stopped to buy a bottle of wine would now have nowhere to go.

An inspector for the authority also found Crofton Road Foodmarket was operating more as a dairy than a grocery store.

Owner Roshan Patel said he had been selling alcohol at his store for 14 years and had never had an issue before. ''It's a sad thing isn't it? My regular customers that come here and buy a bottle of wine, they are not going to come in.''

He said he had no choice but to follow the authority's ruling. ''I don't want to go to court and spend money for the lawyer. What's the use?''

Both owners said alcohol did not make up a bulk of their sales but often those who came to buy a bottle of wine would buy something else as the same time.

The reasoning was similar for Oriental Bay Store which the authority described as a ''popular outlet for ice creams, milkshakes, takeaway food items and convenience foods''.

The owner of Oriental Bay Store was not immediately available to comment.

All three stores have their application to renew a liquor licence refused but are permitted to sell alcohol until the end of next month.

Contact Shabnam Dastgheib
Email: shabnam.dastgheib@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @shab_d

The Dominion Post