Three Fayetteville Harps Food Stores apply for retail beer and wine permits

Harps on College Avenue is one of three Harps stores seeking permits to allow the sale of beer and wine.

Photo: Dustin Bartholomew, Flyer staff

It wasn’t long ago when you couldn’t purchase beer or wine at any grocery or convenience store in Fayetteville.

If three permit applications recently filed by Harps Food Stores are approved next month, there won’t be many places where you can’t purchase a six-pack with your groceries.

The grocery chain is seeking retail beer and small farm winery permits for locations on Garland Avenue, Colorado Drive (faces Wedington Drive), and North College Avenue. Similar permit applications for Harp’s Market Place and Price Cutter locations in Springdale were also filed by the chain.

Harp’s officials sought and were approved to sell beer and wine at their Crossover Road store earlier this year.

J. Max Van Hoose, Vice-President of Store Planning for Harps Food Stores did not immediately return a call for comment on the most recent applications, but told us in December that the decision to apply for the permit for their Crossover store was a response to the competitive environment around the store.

“We’re just trying to compete with our competitors,” he said.

Retailers all over Fayetteville have been adding beer and wine to their inventories since E-Z Mart on MLK in Fayetteville broke the ice in the spring of 2009.

Since then, three Walmart locations, several Dollar General stores, Ozark Natural Foods, and a host of local convenience stores have been approved to sell beer and wine in town.

Attorneys representing Harps Food Stores opposed permits for two Fayetteville convenience stores in 2009, citing concern over traffic congestion and underage drinking.

“We said publicly back then that we weren’t opposed to selling beer and wine – we have several stores that sell beer – just that the more people that sold it, the more likely it might end up in the wrong hands,” VanHoose. “We also said that if others went down that road, we would have to evaluate doing so ourselves because that environment would have changed.”

State alcoholic beverage control director Michael Langley will likely make a ruling on the applications in mid-August.