No Real Beer for Colorado C-stores

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No Real Beer for Colorado C-stores

DENVER -- Convenience stores and supermarkets in Colorado won't be allowed to sell full-strength beer following protests by liquor store owners, who said a proposed law change could drive many of them out of business, according to a report by The Associated Press.

The House Business Affairs & Labor Committee voted 7-4 against the proposal after listening to more than seven hours of testimony.

Democratic Rep. Joe Rice said the state's current liquor laws don't make sense, but he said the state should take a comprehensive look at all of them instead of trying to change them piecemeal, the report stated.

Right now, convenience stores and supermarkets are largely limited to selling 3.2 percent beer, but they say sales have tanked since liquor stores started staying open on Sundays under a law passed last year.

Many liquor store owners reluctantly supported the Sunday change as a way to protect their businesses from a push by supermarkets to be able to sell beer and wine.

An economic forecast commissioned by liquor stores found allowing supermarkets and convenience stores to also sell full-strength beer could drive up to half of the liquor stores in the state out of business in the next three to four years, according to the report.

Liquor store owners protested at the hearing that if chains were allowed to sell full-strength beer, they could do it below cost, and drive many of them out of business.

But convenience store owners, including dozens of 7-Eleven franchise owners and managers in red and black uniform shirts, were present too -- and said they were also small-business owners and were hurting because of existing liquor laws.

Colorado has a great number of small liquor stores because liquor licenses are limited to one per person. Supermarket and convenience store chains can apply for a liquor license, but can sell beer, wine and liquor at only one of their locations in the state because of the one-per-person limit.