- Associated Press - Saturday, June 18, 2016

STURGIS, S.D. (AP) - The Sturgis City Council will allow liquor sales at grocery stores in an effort to alleviate congestion at the city-owned liquor store during the town’s famous motorcycle rally.

Mayor Mark Carstensen said the city will experiment with the special event liquor license for grocery stores during the 76th annual rally in August. The city’s liquor store had been the only place in town allowed to sell “spirits” or hard liquor.

“We’re trying to see if this makes sense,” he told the Rapid City Journal (https://bit.ly/1XvURiv ).

Under the ordinance, a grocery store must have a sponsoring nonprofit group. Ten percent of the liquor sales will be split between the city and the nonprofit.

The license will cost $100 per day, with a 15-day maximum. Licenses went on sale last week.

Grocery Mart co-owner Marcia Johnston said she planned to pick up an application so her store could sell liquor during the special-event period from Aug. 1 to Aug. 15. Grocery Mart currently has licenses for off-sale wine and beer and adding liquor is “going to be a little bit of a juggling act.”

Johnston, a former city council member, said she knows the city has experienced issues during the rally with frustrated patrons at the city-owned liquor store.

The rally is the world’s largest motorcycle gathering, typically drawing several hundred-thousand people. Bikers face long lines and lack of parking at the liquor store and some travel to other surrounding cities to buy booze, she said.

“There are so many people in the liquor store, and it becomes hard for them to get everybody served,” she said.

Johnston believes allowing established retail outlets to offer liquor during the rally will work better than the satellite locations the city has tried in the past two years.

“We do get a lot of people through here who do ask where our liquor is located, because they are used to seeing it in a grocery store,” she said.


Information from: Rapid City Journal, https://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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