Dayton’s Gem City Market wants to sell alcohol

Gem City Market members have decided to ask voters for approval to sell alcohol when the store opens. FILE
Gem City Market members have decided to ask voters for approval to sell alcohol when the store opens. FILE

Members of the Gem City Market have decided to pursue alcohol sales at their new proposed store, which will require the support of residents who live in the dry precinct.

At the market’s annul membership meeting Thursday night, members approved asking voters in Dayton precinct 5A to allow the sale of beer and wine at the market, which is planned for the 300 to 400 block of Salem Avenue.

Members also approved developing a “responsible” beer and wine policy via a committee of market members and precinct residents.

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Alcohol is a high-margin, low-labor product that could really help the market’s bottom line, but it will be up to the neighborhood to decide if residents are OK with a variance for alcohol sales, said Lela Klein, executive director of Co-Op Dayton and a Gem City Market board member.

“I’m kind of excited about this as an exercise in cooperative democracy,” she said. “We’ll respect the outcome, whatever happens.”

Precinct 5A had 327 people who voted in the November 2018 gubernatorial race, which means to get a measure on the ballot, market supporters will need about 115 valid signatures, according to the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

Gem City Market has long talked about having a limited selection of beer and wine, including local craft beer, Klein said.

A significant share of grocery sales are driven by football games, holidays and seasonal events, and alcohol is a popular way people choose to celebrate such occasions, Klein said.

Part of the appeal of alcohol sales is that shoppers who swing by the Gem City Market to buy a bottle of wine or six-pack of beer also would pick up other items as well, Klein said.

Gem City Market is not interested in selling single cans of beer or malt liquor with high alcohol content, supporters said.

“We don’t want to replicate what’s already readily available in the trade area,” she said.

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Klein, however, said some residents and neighbors have shared concerns about the potential impact of alcohol sales, related to health, addiction and neighborhood safety and cleanliness.

Some residents in the precinct likely have bad memories from when some retail establishments operated irresponsibly back when alcohol sales were permitted, supporters said.

Gem City Market could head to the ballot in November or May 2020.

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