Brooke Cape works to restock the shelves in the beer cooler at Southside Liquors in Steamboat Springs on Friday afternoon. Local businesses are less than thrilled about legislation allowing Sunday sales that Gov. Bill Ritter is schedule to sign Monday.

Photo by Brian Ray

Brooke Cape works to restock the shelves in the beer cooler at Southside Liquors in Steamboat Springs on Friday afternoon. Local businesses are less than thrilled about legislation allowing Sunday sales that Gov. Bill Ritter is schedule to sign Monday.

Sunday liquor sales likely

Ritter set to approve measure; local businesses less than thrilled

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— Sunday liquor sales are almost a certainty.

Gov. Bill Ritter is scheduled to sign legislation Monday allowing alcohol sales at retail stores starting in July, according to a news release. The reaction among Steamboat Springs retailers was lukewarm, though most stores said if the law is enacted, they plan to be open that seventh day.

"It went just fine without being open on Sundays," said Ted Heid, who owns Southside Liquors. "I thought, 'What a business to be in; I have football Sunday off.' : Now, they took that away from me."

Heid said he saw the measure, state Senate Bill 82, as a promotion of corporate interests. He said he thinks grocery stores will use it as an argument in trying to persuade the state to allow them to sell wine and beer with higher alcohol content.

"It's a bad deal," Heid said. "We know where our government is from. They're all corporate."

As it stands, only grocery and convenience stores can sell alcohol on Sundays. They can sell beer that is 3.2 percent alcohol.

A spokesman for a grocery and convenience store trade group said the measure harms his industry. Sean Duffy of the Rocky Mountain Food Industry Association called the bill flawed and said it would have unintended consequences.

"This will, in essence, prohibit and eliminate beer convenience stores all over Colorado," Duffy said.

If full-strength beer is available, he said, consumers will have no reason to buy 3.2 percent beer. Convenience and grocery stores then would have no reason to stock the product, he said.

"If I were a liquor store owner, I'd love the legislature to remove my competition," Duffy said. "I don't know any other arena where the legislature basically scoops up other businesses' revenue to protect one set of retailers."

He said his group wants the government to allow all retailers to sell full-strength beer seven days a week.

Several local liquor stores said they did not expect to see their sales increase.

"We'll probably do average sales on Sunday, and Monday's numbers might actually go down a little bit," Cellar Liquors Manager Chris Gibbens said. "I think it will be different in winter because a lot of people get in town on Saturday and then might get a chance to shop for booze on Sunday."

Heid said he expected Saturday and Sunday to split sales.

"I don't think it's going to be as good as the politicians want you to believe it's going to be," Heid said.

Pioneer Spirits owner Jeff Worst said he had seen statistics indicating sales increased 10 percent when other states began allowing sales on Sundays. Despite the possible revenue growth, he said he wasn't happy with the incoming rule change.

Sunday is just a nice day not to work, he and other owners said.

"There's a misconception that the old 'blue laws' were the reason this hadn't come to fruition," he said of Sunday sales. "It's actually that small-business owners across the state wanted that day for their families."

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