Colorado liquor store owners have formed a coalition to fight three liquor-related election measures, including one that seeks to allow the sale of wine in grocery stores.
Keeping Colorado Local said it represents hundreds of independent liquor stores that oppose Initiatives 96, 121 and 122, which respectively seek to remove the limit on entity-operated liquor stores, allow grocery stores to sell wine and leave the delivery to third parties. businesses to deliver alcohol.
While supporters say the ballot measures aim to increase convenience and provide more options for consumers, the coalition said it threatens Colorado’s more than 1,600 small liquor businesses by increasing competition from grocery stores, restaurants and national liquor companies.
“It will bankrupt everyone. Every small liquor store depends on wine sales to keep their lights on,” Loren Touch of Gunbarrel Liquors told Gunbarrel. “We have to draw the line somewhere. … There has to be a limit somewhere where the average person with average intelligence and average means can build a life for themselves in the world of small business.
Currently, grocery stores in Colorado are only permitted to sell beer and other malt beverages, and liquor stores can only deliver liquor to customers directly, using their own vehicles and employees.
The group seeking to change those laws, Wine in Grocery Store, has raised more than $11.4 million to support initiatives 121 and 122, according to data from the secretary of state’s office Monday. Of the $11.4 million, more than $3.3 million comes from DoorDash and another $3.3 million from Instacart. Target, Kroger, Albertsons/Safeway and Whole Foods also each donated more than $1 million.
The Coalition Against the Measures argues that these national companies are using Colorado as a cash grab with little regard for how the ballot measures will affect the local economy. The coalition also raised safety concerns about allowing third-party companies, such as UberEats or DoorDash, to deliver alcohol, saying it would open the door to underage drinking and alcohol abuse.
“All of my staff are trained in how to recognize when someone should not be selling alcohol, whether they are underage or intoxicated in any way,” said Chris Carran of Locals Liquors in Silverthorne. “Not only for their own safety, but also for the safety of the community in which we operate.”
The campaign for Initiatives 121 and 122 argues that Coloradans prefer the choice and convenience of getting what they normally buy – food, plus beer and wine – at their grocery stores.
“And that’s really being driven by demand from consumers who expect that kind of convenience,” Michelle Lyng, who speaks for Wine in Grocery Store, told Colorado Politics. “Having a bottle of wine, accompanied by spaghetti, is what consumers expect.
Lyng also dismissed the argument that the initiatives would shut down liquor stores, saying Coloradans heard that argument years ago directly on the proposal to allow full-strength beer in grocery stores.
“It just didn’t happen,” she said.
As for allowing third-party alcohol delivery, Lyng said it “opens up an incredible market for restaurant delivery.”
She also insisted that grocery stores have a better track record of preventing the sale of alcohol to minors.
Regarding Initiative 96, the coalition said allowing single entities to operate an unlimited number of liquor stores would lead to large liquor companies opening more locations in Colorado, pushing smaller independent liquor stores outside the industry.
Supporters of Initiative 96 said it would create a “more level playing field” for the various businesses that sell alcohol for off-site consumption.
“Creating parity and orderly expansion for all businesses will promote competition, create jobs, increase consumer selection and choice, and reduce costs for Coloradans,” the initiative states.
Current law limits a person or business to holding only three retail liquor store licenses at a time – which will be increased to four by 2027. Initiative 96 would immediately increase the limit to eight, then to 19 by 2032 and remove the limit entirely by 2037.
Initiative 96 is backed by Total Wine & More, a liquor store with more than 200 locations in 27 states, including the maximum three in Colorado. Owners, brothers Robert and David Trone, single-handedly funded the initiative’s committee, Coloradans for Consumer Choice and Retail Fairness, spending more than $2.6 million on Monday, according to documents filed by the secretary’s office. of state.
Keeping Colorado Local has so far raised approximately $400,000, including contributions from more than a dozen liquor stores and the Colorado Licensed Beverage Association.
All three initiatives received the minimum number of signatures to qualify for the ballot, being declared sufficient by the Secretary of State’s office on August 26. Initiative 96 garnered 149,699 valid signatures, needing only 124,632 to qualify for the ballot. Initiatives 121 and 122 collected 142,697 and 139,312 valid signatures respectively.
Coloradans will vote on all three ballot measures in the Nov. 8 general election.