Full-Strength Beer & Liquor in Grocery Stores

Recently, there has been a greater push to allow grocery stores and other chains like Target to be able to sell liquor, wine, and full-strength beer at all of their locations. Currently, Colorado law only permits one liquor license per business for the entire state, which means that only one location of a chain of stores is able to sell liquor, wine, and full-strength beer. Other locations are limited to only being able to sell 3.2% beer and wine coolers. Now, supporters of this change are working to get the necessary signatures to take the measure to voters directly, rather than rely on the legislature to make the changes.

The possibility of change brings up opposing concerns from different groups around Colorado. Primarily, large supermarkets and other grocery chains would like to be able to provide their customers with a one-stop-shopping experience at all of their locations, to make shopping for groceries and alcohol more convenient for shoppers. However, due to the current laws, there are currently hundreds of locally owned and operated liquor stores peppered throughout the state to meet consumers’ demand. These small business owners are facing a potentially huge loss of business if these changes take place. They are worried that they will have to cut employees and potentially shut down altogether if they are competing with bigger grocers.

With Colorado being a hub for craft beer brewers, this too could present a difficult issue for them as well. Craft brewers may find it more difficult to get their products on the shelves of larger retailers and with potentially fewer, smaller liquor stores, which could hurt their businesses as well. At the same time, smaller liquor stores might be able to try leveraging their craft beer selection and expertise to keep consumers coming to them for their beer needs, instead of picking up something at the bigger grocery stores.

Some say that it is the local nature of liquor stores and breweries, which were influenced at least in part by the current laws, that encouraged Colorado’s independent craft beer culture. They don’t want to see that culture change and want to keep the jobs and revenue here in Colorado and going to Colorado businesses, instead of larger regional and national chains.

Either way, it will be interesting to see how this issue continues to develop.


If you have questions about legal matters for your business, don’t hesitate to   reach out to the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, PC, home of your Denver Business Attorney, Elizabeth Lewis, at 720-258-6647 or email her at elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.