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Bliss Books and Wine owner struggles to get liquor license after landing storefront

Posted at 8:51 PM, Apr 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-21 23:22:37-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s a feat in and of itself when a small business is able to survive struggles brought on by the pandemic.

A local Kansas City, Missouri, bookstore did that, but now is battling to get a liquor license.

La’Nesha Frazier, owner of Bliss Books and Wine, said the first step was ensuring the community was behind her business.

It included getting permission from two nearby schools and neighbors to obtain a liquor license.

“I want to be moving forward [and] make progress, and for this to be out of my hands, it’s a hard pill to swallow,” Frazier said. “You learn as an entrepreneur, there are going to be hurdles, sometimes they are larger than others, sometimes they are going to be a brick wall and get around it, we’ve come to this massive wall."

Frazier said that hearing "no" from the city of KCMO, felt like a "no" to what she’s worked towards.

“Pre-pandemic, we did pop-ups around the city,” Frazier said.

Frazier's business was forced to pivot to online book clubs and author events, but last month she raised enough money for a storefront.

“Every time I go to unlock that door, I try to keep from crying. It’s a dream come true, my baby that’s come to life,” she said. “We found a place, signed the lease, but now we are fighting this liquor license thing.”

She says that liquor license part is the essence of her business.

“It’s the great pleasure of reading a book and having a glass of wine,” Frazier said.

In a lettered response from the city, it read in part that the density of taverns versus population in about a half-mile radius around her store is too many.

Below is part of the letter sent to Frazier from the city:

"There are currently 11 businesses with retail sales by drink/Tavern liquor licenses located within a 3,000-foot radius. The population within the same 3,000-foot radius is 9,151. A minimum population of 18,000 is required before a retail sales by drink tavern license could be issued at this location."
City of KCMO

“So they don’t want another one, so we are fighting to say that we are not a liquor store, we are not a nightclub, we are an independent Black-owned book store that would like to sell wine,” she said.

Frazier said there won’t be late mornings, loud music or partying, because it’s a bookstore.

“What they have going on over there is nowhere near the area that I’m affecting,” she said.

Now, along with members of the KCMO City Council, Frazier is hoping to change the city ordinance, so the Alcohol Beverage Advisory Board can review their case again.

A city spokesperson told KSHB 41 News that the change of ordinance had been discussed with the other proposed ordinance changes this past year.

However, no changes were made because there was no clear direction on what changes to make.

The spokesperson said a meeting on the issue could happen in June.