A rival of the Costco Warehouse liquor operation challenging the legality of the big box vendor’s license to sell is barred from obtaining the company’s purchase records from local liquor distributors, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray said on Monday.
United Beverage Retailers of Arkansas, a consortium of statewide liquor store owners, and its chairman Johnny Akins, co-owner of Legacy Wine and Spirits opposite Costco, have filed a lawsuit to have it overturned Costco’s liquor license.
The Arkansas Beverage Control Board unanimously approved Costco to sell spirits like vodka, whiskey and rum in June over objections from the retail group. Costco opened on July 21 on Chenal Parkway.
United Beverage attorney Jimmy Simpson told the judge that Akins had reason to believe Costco had misled the board of directors about how the company operated its liquor store, and that the records of four local distributors would show this deception.
The information sought would include the names of Costco’s sales representatives, the amount of beer, wine and spirits that Costco has purchased since opening, how the product is attributed to Costco, and the records used to make the award decision. . Simpson wanted to obtain these records through assignments sent to central distributors, Golden Eagle distributors and Moon distributors of Little Rock, as well as Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits of Arkansas of North Little Rock.
Attorneys for Costco opposed the request, saying the company considers the information to be proprietary and “competitive sensitive.” Costco attorney Mike Shannon said there had been no wrongdoing, saying United Beverage plaintiffs’ complaints about the store’s operation were based on their misinterpretation of case law that governs operations of the shop.
Gray said the plaintiffs had no reason to acquire the records because their case is whether state regulators properly applied the law to allow Costco, not what happened once. that Costco received its license.
If they have a new complaint against Costco, they must report it to regulators for investigation, she said.