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Council Divided Over Kmart Liquor License

Aldermen voted 4-3 in favor of approving a liquor license for the K-Mart home goods retail store in Des Plaines on Monday.

Customers of the Kmart store in Des Plaines may soon be able purchase alcoholic beverages. Des Plaines City Council voted in favor of approving a liquor license, 4-3, for the home goods retailer in the first of two public readings of the ordinance at a meeting on Monday.

Sixth Ward Alderman Mark Walsten said he voted against the liquor license because he wanted to support small business liquor stores already operating in Des Plaines.

“I don’t believe a billion-dollar corporation needs to cut in on the turf of small business,” Walsten said. “There are a lot of smaller liquor stores in Des Plaines, stores that have been around for years trying to make a living, and now we have billion-dollar companies that want to jump in on that.”

Second Ward Alderman John Robinson and Third Ward Alderman Matt Bogusz also voted against the proposed liquor license. Bogusz said the proliferation of alcohol sales, and advertising signage, was a concern, and, he, like Walsten, supported small businesses.

Robinson declined an interview with Patch.

Kmart’s expansion into liquor sales is another step in a recently completed remodeling process that included a new grocery and frozen food section, said Kevin Awe, store manager at the Des Plaines location, 1155 E. Oakton St. Awe said the new freezers were similar to those found in Target stores.

“We don’t carry everything, but we carry about six freezers now with waffles, French fries, ice cream and stuff like that,” Awe said.

Fifth Ward Alderman James Brookman was not present. If a vote is tied, the mayor may choose to vote and break the tie.

“Selling toys isn’t good enough, they want booze beside them in the next aisle,” Walsten said. “I’ll be voting ‘no’ on this item.”

A final decision will happen at the ordinance's second reading at the Des Plaines City Council meeting on Dec. 17. All ordinances have two readings, and council members vote on both. The purpose of the first reading is to put people on notice of the subject matter of the ordinance. It is adopted or defeated at the second reading.

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