Operators: Pass Prop 124 for the sake of local liquor stores and Colorado craft beverage makers | AspenTimes.com

Operators: Pass Prop 124 for the sake of local liquor stores and Colorado craft beverage makers

Peter Cuccia and Ari Opsahl
Guest Commentary
The Aspen Times

As a ski-town liquor-store owner and a Colorado craft-beer brewer, we know that local liquor stores foster craft beverage production and distribution in Colorado. But, our industry already operates at a disadvantage, and it’s likely to get worse if big-box retailers have their way. That’s why we are writing to urge voters to support Proposition 124 (Increase Allowable Liquor Store Locations) at the polls this November.

Currently, Colorado’s outdated, unfair liquor laws cap the number of retail licenses for local liquor stores at no more than three. At the same time, Colorado law grants national retailers like Walmart, Target and other national supermarket chains the opportunity to expand from their current allotment of eight to an unlimited number of liquor licenses — and they’re looking to build on it.

Peter Cuccia

Even before their expansion to unlimited licensing for beer, wine, and spirits takes hold, the big-box retailers are poised to have an even bigger advantage if voters give them the go-ahead this fall to sell wine and beer at nearly 2,000 grocery and convenience stores statewide — more than doubling the number of stores where wine can be sold as soon as next year.

Given the challenges confronting 1,600 local liquor stores in Colorado — along with the thriving craft-beverage industry they nurture — we support Proposition 124, which gives our local liquor retailers a fighting chance to survive in an increasingly competitive market.

Prop 124 helps level the lopsided playing field and make Colorado’s alcohol laws more fair by gradually increasing the number of licenses an independent local liquor retailer can own over time — just like the supermarkets and big-box chains. If supermarkets and big-box chains can have their own special category of unlimited licenses to sell beer, wine, and spirits in Colorado, we believe local liquor store owners should be given the same opportunity. And, that’s just what Prop 124 provides.

Ari Opsahl

Passing Prop 124 will help local liquor stores compete and deliver lower prices, larger selection, and an improved customer experience. The opportunity to expand translates to increased ability to feature and promote Colorado’s independent craft-beverage makers at more locations — something big-box retailers have never done and will almost certainly never do. But, without Prop 124, those supermarket and big-box chains could soon become the only game in town – rendering the expertise of local liquor stores and the availability of Colorado craft beverages a thing of the past.

If our local liquor stores and the craft-beverage industry are going to continue to compete and thrive here in Colorado, our liquor-licensing laws must treat all retailers of alcoholic beverages fairly and equally. That’s why we’re voting yes for Proposition 124 this November and respectfully ask you to do the same.

Peter Cuccia of Edwards is the owner of Village Warehouse Wines, located just across from Walmart in Avon.

Ari Opsahl is the CEO of Tivoli Brewing Company in Denver, Colorado’s oldest craft brewery.