Colorado prepares for new wine law, local businesses worry about possible impacts

As grocery stores prepare to carry wine, some local businesses are worried about the impact.
Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 6:15 PM MST
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - As the state prepares to welcome a new law allowing grocery stores to carry wine, local businesses are worrying about how this might impact them.

The law, introduced in the 2022 election as proposition 125, was passed by voters. It allows anyone with a license to sell beer to sell wine, as well. This includes grocery and convenience stores. Starting Wednesday, March 1, shoppers will be able to pick it up at stores like Safeway and King Soopers, as well as larger retail stores like Walmart and Target.

However, local businesses said they are worried about the impact this law could have on their sales. The owner of Cheers Liquor Mart, Jack Backman, said that while he isn’t worried about his own store, he is concerned smaller businesses could feel a greater impact.

“Smaller ma and pop shops that are in a center where a [King Soopers] or Safeway or Walmart, whoever, are going to be affected the most because they’re going to have the most to lose,” Backman said.

Backman has been in the liquor business for more than 40 years, he said. Recently, he has seen the state impacted by inflation. More than that, though, he said recent laws like this one have already had negative impacts on sales. In 2019, a law went into place to allow grocery stores to sell full-strength beer. According to Backman, this caused the price of beer to increase. He said this will likely happen with wine, as well.

“I mean, the first thing that’s going to happen consumers are going to notice at the prices are going to go up because the distributors we deal with already have to buy more trucks, hire more people and they’re not going to sell more wine because it’s on every corner, they are going to sell the same amount of wine, it’s going to cost twice as much to do a business,” Backman said.

But a customer at Cheers said he didn’t really notice a huge difference when the beer law went into effect. He said he plans to continue shopping local after Wednesday, and that he believes small businesses will be able to easily bounce back.

“I mean, you got it adapt,” said Bradley May, “that’s really how business works, you got adapt when things change, you change as well.”

A few customers outside of a local King Soopers said they were excited for the law. One man said he looks forward to the convenience the law will bring to people looking for a one-stop shop.

“I hate to see it mess with small businesses with liquor stores,” said Marty Hoyle, “but it’s nice to go someplace and do all your shopping at once and get out there.”

Hoyle said he voted in favor of proposition 125.

Even before Wednesday, stores like Safeway are already clearing out large portions of space for wine. The law will convert all beer licenses to include wine, including convenience stores in the law, as well.