Liquor store owners opposing pending legislation
February 17, 2010
At a glance
• Colorado House Bill 10-1186 seeks to allow the sale of malt liquor in convenience stores.
• Local liquor store owners, such as Mike Vice, co-owner of Lariat Liquors, contend “it will drive liquor stores out of business.”
• Sen. Al White, R-Hayden, is opposed to the legislation contending liquor stores need the business more than convenience stores do.
• The bill is currently in a house finance committee and is expected to be voted on shortly.
Mike Vice, co-owner of Lariat Liquors in Craig, contends that if Colorado legislation passes to allow convenience stores to sell full strength beer, "it will drive liquor stores out of business."
Colorado House Bill 10-1186 seeks to "allow the sale of malt liquor in convenience stores defined as retail businesses of less than 5,000 square feet."
The bill is currently in a house finance committee and is expected to soon go before the house for vote.
Some liquor store owners contend they cannot compete with a chain of convenience stores that could be able to secure bulk discounts.
"They can buy on a corporate level and get big breaks, and we just wouldn't be able to compete with them," Vice said.
The bill does not allow convenience stores to sell other types of liquor such as wine or spirits.
But Vice considers beer to be the biggest blow.
"Beer is probably 75 to 80 percent of our business," he said. "It's ridiculous to me."
Craig has six liquor stores and Vice contends that business already is competitive.
"Right now our market is so saturated, one of the stores is hurting," he said. "There are five convenience stores, and if you add five more stores to our market, what is that going do to our share of the profit?"
Representatives from Kum & Go, which has three stores in Craig, did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Sen. Al White, R-Hayden, is opposed to the legislation.
"I feel that the loss of market share to their beer business will probably result in small, mom and pop liquor stores going out of business," White said.
White contends that liquor stores need the business more than convenience stores do.
"I don't think that convenience stores, operated by large, out-of-state corporations, will be closing stores because they don't have the ability to sell full strength beer," he said. "I don't think (convenience store employees) are going to be laid off, or lose their jobs."
The issue, however, goes deeper than just liquor stores and convenience stores; breweries also are keeping an eye on the legislation.
"We're in this with the liquor stores," said Bill Graham, co-owner of Ska Brewing Company in Durango. "We feel this bill would harm our industry and cost Colorado a lot of jobs."
With nearly 100 breweries in Colorado, Graham said this is "a pretty viable industry with deep roots."
"Losing shelf space on the craft side of things would hurt breweries," he said. "We would have to downsize and so would the suppliers, glass manufacturers and can manufactures."
Brian Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or email@example.com.