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The History of Liquor Stores & Wine Stores in Ohio

by Administrator18. December 2013 18:20

An Intriguing Lesson in Wine & Liquor History

- Introduction -

Most people don't know it, but beer, wine and spirits have quite the history in Ohio, as well as in 17 other states. Surprisingly, Ohio is one of the 18 states in the US to have a monopoly over the wholesale and/or retail of alcoholic beverages. These states are known as "alcoholic beverage control states", but are more commonly called "ABC stores" or "control states". But how did this come to be?


The temperance movement, also known as the prohibition, was the political movement across the US that tried to outlaw the consumption of alcohol, either in full or in part. It had an extremely substantial influence on the American people (meaning society), the political system and the legal system in the United States. The movement meant that many of the states controlled where and when alcohol could be sold and consumed, and in most states it was simply outlawed altogether. Prior to the prohibition, most alcohol was simply sold like any other item in a store or in the bars and saloons. It wasn't until the early 19th century where people became convinced that US citizens were acting in such an immoral manner that God would no longer bless the United States and shine His goodwill upon it. That's about when the temperance movement came into place. States slowly adopted "state-run" dispensaries as well as illegal (or "dry") municipalities.

The largest organization that sought to abolish alcohol consumption was the American Temperance Society. More than 200,000 people were part of the the organization by the mid-1930s. They would publish flyers and hired speakers to talk about why alcohol was bad for you.

And many Ohioans participated in the prohibition movement. According to, "...residents of Trumbull County formed a temperance society, and Summit County residents followed suit three years later. Many of the earliest temperance advocates were women. Most men believed that women were best suited for the home. It was, according to the men, a woman's responsibility to raise virtuous children. Many women used this argument against the men. If women were responsible for creating virtuous children, women, they contended, should also play a role in helping those people who have become consumed by immoral acts redeem themselves."

Of course, things changed. The laws were repealed and amended. In 1933, following the repeal, some states decided they would continue the prohibition partially, regarding the distribution and sale of alcohol within their jurisdictions. There are even some "dry" counties and cities in the US today - this is called a local option. 

The rest of the states either obtained state-approved alcohol-selling licenses and/or adopted the monopoly system of alcohol regulation, as we mentioned above. The monopoly system took over the wholesale trade industry and conducts the sale of heavier alcohol (i.e. liquor) through its own stores. That means that the state itself controls the distribution and sale of alcohol. Many of these ABC stores have an Alcoholic Beverage Control board and run the ABC stores. In all of the monopoly states, the state alcohol license system is used to regulate the sale and distribution of the "lighter" alcohol such as wine and beer.

And there you have it... The history of the liquor and wine stores in Ohio, and in the United States.


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