Liquor store

Decatur Wine & Spirits

A liquor store is a retail shop that sells prepackaged alcoholic beverages — typically in bottles — intended to be consumed off the store's premises. Depending on region and local idiom, they may also be called bottle store, off licence, bottle shop, bottle-o, package store (in Boston, called a packie),[1] ABC store, state store, or other similar terms. In Michigan they are known as "Party Store". Many states and jurisdictions have an alcohol monopoly.

African states

In South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe, these stores are generally called bottle stores.

United Kingdom and Ireland

In the United Kingdom and Ireland the corresponding term is off licence, which refers to the fact that alcohol may be bought on the licensed premises, but must be consumed off the premises. A commonly used slang term for the off licence is "offie" or "offy".

Almost all supermarkets and grocery stores, and many petrol stations, have an off-licence.

The price of alcohol in off licence establishments is substantially lower than in on-licence establishments (bars, pubs, and restaurants).


Nordic countries

Note: All Nordic countries, except Denmark, have government-owned alcohol monopolies.

European Union

In Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain all supermarkets, convenience stores, and gas stations may sell beer, wine, and liquors only if they possess a licence. The consumption of alcohol on premises is not forbidden, but is frowned upon. In the Netherlands supermarkets are allowed to sell alcoholic beverages up to 15% ABV, hard liquor is only sold from specialized bottle shops.

United States

Some states in the United States operate their own retail stores for the sale of certain types of alcohol, such as this state-run liquor store in Cottonwood Heights, Utah.
The Bunghole, a liquor store in Salem, Massachusetts, a non-ABC state.

The Twenty-first Amendment of the United States Constitution allows states to regulate the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages.[2] State regulations vary widely. The majority of the U.S. states have laws specifying which alcoholic beverages must be sold in specialty liquor stores and which may be sold in other venues.

In eighteen alcoholic beverage control (ABC) states, the specialty liquor stores are owned and operated exclusively by the state government, where liquor stores often sell only spirits or sometimes sell spirits and wine but not beer. ABC-run stores may be called ABC stores or state stores.

In Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, liquor stores are also technically known as package stores, locally in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and areas bordering these states the term pack or packie is used as well, because purchased liquor must be packaged in sealed bottles or other containers when it is taken from the store.[3]

In five states (Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Utah), only low-point beer may be sold in supermarkets or gas stations.

In some states (e.g., California, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin), all alcoholic beverages can be sold practically anywhere, including drug stores and gas stations.

In Washington state, all beer and wine are available in specialty stores, grocery stores, convenience stores, department stores, taverns, and other locations. All spirits are available in stores greater than 10,000 sq ft (such as grocery stores, big box liquor chains, and drug stores). There are two exceptions to the 10,000-sq-ft rule: 1) former state and contract liquor stores that reopened under private ownership may also sell spirits provided they have been issued a new license from the state; and 2) cities, mostly in rural areas, that do not have a store that meets the minimum floor space may be allowed to sell spirits if the Liquor Control Board deems that there are no sufficient establishments within the trade area.

In Los Angeles and most parts of Southern California, Angelenos often colloquially refer "liquor store" to any Convenience store, corner store, minimart, or similar small local neighborhood grocery store.


All provinces except Alberta and British Columbia have government-owned retail liquor monopolies. Alberta has only privately owned liquor stores. British Columbia has both private and government-owned retail liquor outlets.

Due to federal law, all provincial liquor boards must act as the first importer of alcoholic beverages.[4][5]

See also


  1. Gordon, Heather (2004). Newcomer's Handbook For Moving To And Living In Boston: Including Cambridge, Brookline, And Somerville. First Books. p. 14. ISBN 978-0912301549.
  2. U.S. Constitution, Amendment XXI, Section 2.
  3. E.g., Connecticut General Statutes, Chap. 545, Section 30-20.
  4. Canadian Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act
  5. The distribution arrangements for Canadian alcohol sales are summarized in Statistics Canada's "The Control and Sale of Alcoholic Beverages in Canada," page 46.
  6. Details on the Vincor and Wal-Mart retail locations
  7. Full details about Ontario's retail alcohol system can be found in the most current LCBO Annual Report.
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