Craig liquor stores lament new law allowing full-strength beer sales in grocery, convenience stores
CRAIG — Liquor stores in Craig aren’t too happy about Colorado’s new stronger beer law.
The law took effect on Jan. 1 and allows large retail grocers like Walmart and City Market to stock stronger beer previously only available at local liquor stores.
Before the start of 2019, only 3.2 percent beer was allowed at outlets across the state.
“We’re just really excited for them to take our business,” said a sarcastic Clyde Hettinger, the longtime former owner of Craig’s Dark Horse Liquors, Inc.
As he stood in the small, family-owned liquor store Friday, Hettinger lamented what he sees as a corporate takeover.
“I think corporate America is taking over the world,” Hettinger said. “Just like everything else, there’s going to be no mom and pop businesses left. We’re one of the last (family-owned) liquor stores. Pretty quick, corporate America is going to own everything. So, we don’t know exactly how it’s going to affect our sales, but we know it isn’t going to help us. I would’ve liked to never see that law take effect.”
Becky Peed bought Dark Horse in July but has worked there for a long time. She said loyal customers are keeping them in business.
“I think we also have a lot of loyal customers,” Peed said. “A lot of people still believe in the small business. I’ve had a lot of people tell me they’re still shopping with the local businesses. We also have this drive-thru that’s wonderful. We get lots of coal miners, construction workers, oil field workers. They get off of work, morning, evening, afternoon. They don’t want to get out and come in the store.”
Peed also takes pride in offering customers free ice year-round.
“Hunters come all the time,” Peed said. “They do some shopping at Walmart and City Market, but they always come back every time for their beer and ice.”
Personnel with Loadout Liquors also have voiced their displeasure with the new law.
A Walmart manager declined to speak to the Craig Press on the record about their new beer offerings and referred questions to Walmart’s public relations office Friday.
The Craig Press was unable to speak with a Walmart press spokesperson, but a visit to Walmart’s beer aisle in the days before New Year’s Eve found the beer aisle completely barren. The aisle was completely restocked, however, on the morning of Jan. 1 and a sign near the beer aisle still encourages shoppers not to miss Walmart’s new stronger beer offerings.
Many Kum & Go locations in Craig received their new beer shipments in the days after Jan. 1, with some still receiving shipments of new, stronger beer.
A manager at Craig’s City Market also declined to comment on the record, but referred the Craig Press to its company’s public relations official, Adam Williamson, who said City Market’s beer shelf essentially doubled in size Jan. 4 and is now stocked with new, stronger beer.
“It has taken a long time to be able to offer our customers a one-stop shopping experience that includes full strength beer,” Williamson said in an email. “We are very excited to offer our customers full strength and especially a large selection of local Colorado craft beer.”
The Colorado Public Utilities Commission has filed a protest with federal regulators seeking to block the bid by the power provider for rural electric cooperatives to jump from state to federal oversight.