FRESH was one of the first locations in Tyler to receive beer Friday after the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission approved several locations for beer and wine sales.
An 18-pack of Bud Light was not his first choice, but it was available and in the store system first. Mims was followed by media, and store employees took photos as the register rang up one of the first beer purchases following legalization of beer and wine sales Nov. 6.
Mims said he wasn’t sure legalization should have been approved by voters, but he expected the news to bring people to stores in droves.
“I heard they were stocking up and decided to come down,” he said. “I am sure everybody will know about it by tonight.”
Mims later joked he might hold onto his purchase and donate it to the Smith County Historical Society as the first beer sold in Tyler.
Convenience stores across Tyler confirmed they, too, were getting beer either Friday afternoon or this morning, and for those stores in Precinct 2 that have been selling for a week, they declined to talk about the amount of sales.
Rayzor, who lives in Tyler, shared mixed emotions about the legalization of beer and wine sales. As a distributor, he said it will increase beer sales possibly 25 percent but as a Tyler resident he said he hopes the city will monitor businesses closely to maintain the city’s appeal.
“Hopefully, 10 years from now, the people of Tyler will be glad they approved alcohol sales,” he said. “It’s just different in towns like Palestine and Longview. There’s something about Tyler and the way it is … or was.”
Rayzor said his company has hired 15 new employees and purchased three tractor trailers to bulk up its distributorship. He said the change will not translate into major profit increases but rather more accounts to handle.
The city began receiving applications after canvassing votes Nov. 19 in the local option election.
Lt. Michael Lockhart, of TABC, said more than 135 applied in the Smith County/Tyler area and the TABC office in Longview was overwhelmed.
Lockhart, from his Arlington office, said the licensing process was slowed due to the high volume.
“When we have something like this happen, then our local offices get overwhelmed. We then spread the workload around to several offices to work as quickly as we can,” he said.
City of Tyler Planning Director Heather Nick said the city has received more than 50 applications and approved 44. She said the applications were approved in “batches” on a first-come-first-served basis.
Application filings have slowed because of the holidays, Ms. Nick said.
Locations, including convenience and grocery stores, in Justice of the Peace Precinct 2 began selling beer and wine last week. Canvassing in the precinct was approved by commissioners court Nov. 16.
TABC Regional Licensing Supervisor Loretta Green said expected the process to take 45 to 60 days after the canvassing of votes, but Friday marked Day 39.
Before the permitting process, Ms. Green said some retailers who already have permits with TABC likely would move through the process quicker because they are on file.
Ellen Reynolds, Brookshire Grocery Co. corporate communications, said all Tyler locations except the Brookshire’s on Fifth Street would have product by Friday.
She said the store on Fifth Street was waiting on a permit.
“A variety of beer and wine products is available in each store where alcohol sales are now allowed. Selection and quantity are based on store size and other factors. The FRESH by Brookshire’s store on Old Jacksonville Highway offers an expanded variety including craft beers and a larger selection of wines at varying price points,” she said in a statement.