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Colorado C-stores to Get Full-strength Beer?

DENVER -- Republican Representative Larry Liston introduced a bill to let convenience stores of less than 5,000 square feet sell beer with an alcohol content of more than the currently allowed 3.2 percent maximum, just as liquor stores can do, according to the Denver Business Journal.

The bill does not allow sales of wine or spirits at the stores, and does not include grocery stores' ability to sell full-strength beer or wine. Liston told the paper he believes c-stores suffered after a 2008 law was enacted that allowed liquor stores to operate on Sunday. Letting c-stores sell full-strength beer -- including craft beers -- would help them recoup some loss and would not pose any grave threat to the profitability of liquor stores, Liston said in the report.

"I'm not interested in allowing the grocery stores into this market. But why would [liquor stores] be afraid to have a convenience store sell their product?" Liston asked. "They've been shut out of the process inadvertently with the advent of Sunday sales."

But Liston's proposal, which is co-sponsored by five House Democrats, is expected to run into opposition from liquor-store owners.

Craft beer and boutique wine makers are also likely opponents and have said they believe any bill that hurts liquor stores and pushes a higher percentage of alcohol sales to big chain stores will inhibit shelf access for local independent producers, the report stated.

The Colorado Retail Council won't oppose the bill, and it is working on a separate measure to deal with grocery stores, president Chris Howes told the newspaper.
Supporters of Liston's bill include the Colorado-Wyoming Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, and lobbyist Jason Hopfer, who represents the 7-Eleven and Circle K convenience store chains.

The bill was assigned to the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee, but no hearing date has been set as of press time.

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