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Supermarkets Push To Sell Stronger Beer, Wine

Consumers for Choice

There’s a new campaign in Colorado to raise alcohol awareness, but not the usual type of awareness. 

The Colorado Retail Council, a Denver based lobbying group, is trying to raise awareness about who gets to sell alcohol, or more specifically, which alcohol. 

"Right now, supermarkets are constrained to sell only 3.2% beer.  That certainly does not include most craft beer which is very popular in Colorado," said CRC President Chris Howes, "we don't think these antiquated laws make sense.  They certainly don't make it easier for the customer, but we have seen a lot of customer demand."

Not everyone agrees with Howes.  Jeanne McEvoy is with the Colorado Licensed Beverage Association. 

"[The CRC] may be a small group of retailers, but by no means are they small retailers.  It's Safeway, King Supers, Walmart, Costco who would like the ability to sell full strength beer and wine," said McEvoy, "and ultimately they will want spirits as well.  This is not a new movement in Colorado: they have tried unsuccessfully for the past 30 years to change our laws."

McEvoy says the law is designed keep the liquor industry small.  She says there are over 1600 liquor stores in Colorado, each independently owned. 

Howes sees it as more of a free market issue.

"Well there's resistance mostly from the liquor stores who want to continue to keep the product all to themselves," he said, "I think it will have a positive impact for the customer, which is really what it's all about.  Making the customer happy.  That's what businesses are in business for."

The law has been in effect in some form or another going back to prohibition.  McEvoy wants it to stick around.

"I think we ought to safeguard the precious gems that we have in the small businesses," she says, "who count on the ability to walk into a liquor store and say 'Won't you please put my product on your shelf'.  That doesn't happen in large corporations."

Right now the campaign is a website, focused on getting the word out and generating support to remove the law.

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