Groceries as Saloons
When the temperance movement was at high tide during 1800s, the term "grocery" did have a negative connotation, at least among temperance advocates. Not all grocery stores sold liquor, but the many that did tended to give them all a bad name among zealous temperance advocates. So much so that the very word "grocery" became almost synonymous with "saloon," and many temperance advocates used the term with sarcasm or disdain to suggest a place that was a grocery in name only.
In 1856, the temperance advocates of Springfield, many of them women, managed to get a law passed by the Missouri Legislature, called the Springfield Liquor Law, that outlawed the sale of liquor in Springfield. After its passage, the ladies of Springfield, in a letter of appreciation to the legislature, boasted that there was now "no dram shop or grocery in Springfield."
This negative attitude toward the word "grocery" probably helps explain why businesses that we might tend to think of today as "grocery stores" were more often called "general stores" during the 1800s and early 1900s. If you didn't sell liquor, you let people know it by calling your place of business a general store instead of a grocery store. At least I suppose that was the logic, although I'm sure there were "general stores" that also sold liquor, under the counter if not openly.