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Could Convenience stores sell regular beer?
Talk about convenience…
The state house recently voted on a bill that potentially could let convenience stores stop selling 3.2 beers in favor of full strength beer.
However the Colorado license beverage association (CLPA), which sponsors 1600 of the state’s liquor stores, has come out strongly against the bill, claiming close to 300 stores could close as a result.
One store that has been vehement in their opposition to the bill is Superior Liquors located just outside boulder.
“It’s going to take away, for liquor store beer sales, as much as 50 percent,” said Superior Liquor Manager Chris Lamson. “It would be a big hit for us in a business sense.”
The debate began back in 2008 when legislation finally allowed liquor stores to sell on Sundays, taking away the demand for 3.2 beers at grocery and convenience stores.
According to the Denver Post, convenience stores estimate that every store has lost $40,000 a year since the move. Colorado is one of only five states that sells the lower alcoholic 3.2 beer.
Buzz Calkins, who operates many convenience store chains in Colorado, told the Denver Post that all they want is to compete on a level field.
“The reality of that is they never sold very much 3.2 beer in the first place,” said Lamson. “And they say that their 3.2 beer sales are down by almost 60 percent, but if you take that as a percentage of their entire sales of their stores, it’s a tiny amount.”
In an attempt to compensate, the bill would allow liquor stores the opportunity to sell food items, something they currently are not allowed to do. Many in favor of the bill say they enjoy the idea of convenience, being able to buy their beer, while they purchase their groceries and other household items.
“I would go to a gas station to buy my beer because it’s so convenient, and its just right there and gas stations are all over the place,” said Anna Baker, a barista at Starbucks. “Obviously you go some place and you need to get gas, but you can get your beer too before you are going to a party.”
Lamson doesn’t buy that claim.
“There is a liquor store next to virtually every grocery store,” said Lamson. “So you are talking the convenience of not walking an extra 50 yards, or not swiping your credit card one more time."
One of the other potential worries that liquor stores have if convenience stores are able to sell higher end beer is how easy it will be accessed by minors.
This comes as a new study from the University of Indiana found that the more alcohol sites in a neighborhood equated to more violence, and the highest assault rates were associated with carry-out sites selling alcohol for off-premise consumption.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea for people being able to buy a 40 oz. malt liquor there, particularly when it’s sold by a clerk who is under 21, potentially to his friends,” said Lamson. “Maybe it shouldn’t be that convenient to get alcohol. Maybe safety is more important than alcohol and maybe too much access to it is a bad idea."
While he remains optimistic that the bill will not pass, Lamson argues that the fight with convenience stores is long from over. And he says he will continue to fight, since he claims his job is on the line.