Sometimes we forget that history doesn’t change all at once. There are little pockets of the past that linger untouched by the tides of time, throwbacks to a time that most of the world has left behind.
One such time-pocket is Benton County Arkansas, which yesterday began selling alcohol for the first time in about 70 years. That’s right – you can buy pot legally in Colorado and Washington State, but up until yesterday you couldn’t buy a beer an a large swath of Arkansas.
The effort to switch Benton County from “dry” to “wet” was spearheaded by the group Keep Dollars in Benton County, which spent $660,657 toward the effort, with most of that coming out of the checking accounts of Tom and Steuart Walton, the grandkids of Walmart founder Sam Walton.
These Walmart heirs were opposed by the group
Keep Benton County in the Stone Age Citizens United to Preserve Benton County, which mustered only $1,265 towards the effort to keep the sale of alcohol illegal in the county. The measure was voted on November 7th of last year, and passed with 66% of the popular vote. The first sales permits were issued Wednesday of this week.
A study by the University of Arkansas estimated that legalizing alcohol sales will bring $33 million dollars to the county each year in both sales revenue and jobs (140 of which are estimated to be created), and will have a one-time economic impact of $14 million dollars as retailers get up and running. The state alcohol commission believes the county has room for about 55 liquor stores, but those stores aren’t expected to open until some time this summer.
No word yet on if Goose Island will be commemorating the occasion with a limited edition Benton County Brand Stout, but if they are, rest assured they’ll produce it overseas using cheap Chinese labor and pressure their suppliers to provide the ingredients needed to brew the beer as cheaply as possible, even if corners have to be cut. This is Walmart country, after all.