The number of liquor stores in Oklahoma continues to rise despite recent efforts to change state law and allow grocery stores to sell wine.
There are now 666 liquor stores operating in Oklahoma — the highest total since the 1980s, according to records kept by the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission.
Liquor stores and wineries have been increasing in numbers for much of the past decade, records show.
In 2001, there were 12 wineries and 538 liquor stores in Oklahoma.
Wineries now total 62, and there are 128 more liquor stores in operation today than there were 11 years ago.
There were 605 liquor stores in 1991 before a decade's worth of declines dropped that number to 538.
Twenty years ago, there were only two wineries.
ABLE Director A. Keith Burt said liquor store numbers typically fluctuate. He said the reasons for this are largely unknown to those in the industry.
“When I first got here, in the mid-'80s, there were about 850 liquor stores in the state,” Burt said.
Those in the liquor- and wine-selling business say recent efforts by Oklahomans for Modern Laws to get laws changed to allow grocery stores in the state's largest counties to sell wine apparently have not scared people away.
Jill Ogden has been an owner or part-owner of a liquor store since 2003.
Ogden, an Edmond resident who runs 2nd Street Wine Co. with her husband, said she thinks liquor stores are attractive because of the relatively low start-up costs.
“I think part of it is that people look at it as an investment,” Ogden said. “Really, all you have is your inventory ... and it doesn't really spoil.”
Ogden also said regular, set hours are a lure for some new business owners but that others are scared away by all the regulations that come along with operating a liquor store.
“Your whole investment, really, is your inventory,” she said.