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Law aims to allow wine at groceries

By Dave Buchanan
We are reluctant to watch the Legislature in action, if for no other reason there are so many other productive things to do. But one thing I’ll be watching this year is whether the state decides to allow liquor sales in grocery stores, something long opposed by liquor retailers for fears it will dilute their market. At least one bill has been mentioned for this legislative session and should it pass, Colorado will join the 34 other states that allow wine and full-strength beer sales in groceries. Colorado law now allows the holder of a retail liquor license (most stores carry 3.2-beer) to sell full-strength beer and wine at one store in the state. The law was designed to prevent one person or corporation from owning more than one liquor license and eliminate the chance of a chain controlling liquor prices and selections. So far, only five grocery stores, one in Greeley and the rest in Denver, have opted to do so. Today, however, food stores argue that customers are demanding the chance to buy wine and beer at the same place they buy food. A Massachusetts study noted that those 34 states now allowing grocery store sales of wine and beer are “as good or better than packages stores” at enforcing minimum-age laws and competition from grocery stores does not drive liquor stores out of business.