Categorized under: beer laws, press release

BEER LAW: Latest update on Colorado Grocery Store Liquor Law – HB 1279

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New Fair, Common Sense Approach to Colorado’s Liquor Laws
House Bill 1279 would enable liquor stores to sell to their businesses to grocers

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DENVER—A bill was introduced in the Colorado State Legislature on February 5th that would allow some neighborhood grocery stores to sell beer, wine and spirits by purchasing a retail liquor license and the business from an existing liquor store.

The primary sponsor of House Bill 1279 is Representative Liane “Buffie” McFadyen (D-Pueblo West), Speaker Pro Tempore of the House. Assistant Minority Leader Representative David Balmer (R-Aurora), Representative Edward Casso (D-Commerce City), and Representative Jack Pommer (D-Boulder) are co-sponsors. The primary Senate sponsor is Majority Caucus Chair Senator Suzanne Williams (D-Aurora).

Rep. McFadyen explained, “Colorado customers will see increased convenience as a result of this legislation, benefiting from one-stop shopping while continuing to enjoy a broad selection of beer, wine and spirits at their choice of liquor retailers.”

Under the proposal, individual liquor store owners will have the freedom to continue to operate their stores or to negotiate with grocery stores to sell their business. The proposal makes liquor licenses more valuable to those who have them and provides reasonable protection against competition for retail liquor store owners.

Negotiations between liquor stores and grocery stores will determine the fair value of a liquor license while local governments will maintain their authority to approve the transfer of any license.

The legislation includes reasonable protections for liquor store owners to prevent grocery stores from competing with nearby “on the property” retail liquor stores. Grocery stores would not be able to purchase a liquor license within the licensing jurisdiction if an existing retail liquor store is within 1,000 feet of the grocery store.

“This proposal protects small businesses because individual liquor stores can either choose to sell their business to their neighborhood grocery store or choose to maintain to current status quo without new competitors,” said Diane Mulligan, spokesperson for Fair Markets Colorado, a coalition that supports House Bill 1279.

State and local government would remain involved with the liquor license approval and enforcement process in the same manner as today. The transfer would be subject to a new transfer and application fee ($3,000 to the state and $3,000 to the local authority) to the state and local jurisdiction granting approval. These fees will create new revenue for state and local government for either the administration and enforcement costs or some other designated program.

House Bill 1279 is expected to be heard by the House Business Affairs and Labor committee later this month.


Fair Markets Colorado is a coalition of Coloradans who support the new, common sense bill that would allow some grocery stores to sell liquor by purchasing a retail liquor license from an existing liquor stores. This is a safe, convenient, and free-market approach to the retail sale of liquor in Colorado. For more information, please visit

Other Related Articles:
BEER LAW: Colorado Grocery Store Law back on the table
Fermentedly Challenged: Here we go again with Colorado beer laws

BEER LAW Additional State by State information

BEER LAW pending legislation to allow full-strength beer sales in supermarkets

  • Dave

    Convenience is just fine, but how would it feel putting some 400 established stores out of business? Let’s DO talk Common Sence here. If you had a home for a good while and loved your surroundings and neighbors and things were going fine for years, how would you feel if they decided to put a 1,000 plus residence apartment complex next door? Well, it’s the same with changing the laws to allow grocers to sell full strength beer, wine and booze.

    Let’s use common sense too in that there are few grocers across the nation that carry any more than the top 20 selling beers. If you want real beer see someone who is a professional at doing it – A Liquor Store.


  • Eric Anderson

    You haven’t read this bill. Grocery stores could only sell full-strength alcohol if the nearby liquor store sold them its license. And check out the selection of Colorado beers and wines at the Littleton Safeway, the only one in the state that’s currently allowed to sell full-strength alcohol. Your fears are unwarranted.

  • Larry

    I just can’t see any reasonable citizen objecting to this bill, other than liquor store owners and their lobby. Consumers like the concept of one-stop shopping. There’s no “professional” skill possessed by these strip-mall liquor stores near your local grocer. Most of them know little more about liquor, beer and wine than you do. The larger liquor stores (Argonaut, Chambers Wine and Liquor, insert your large neighborhood store) will continue to thrive because of their expertise, selection and pricing.

  • Gabe

    I support the bill. The greater the competition for the consumers dollar the better for the consumer. These LQ stores have a virtual monopoly on the business. This new price war will be pushed all the way up the supply line. The end result, cheaper booze for all!

    Frankly I’m sick and tired of paying $10 a six pack.

    I’m from Chicago where lq stores and grocery stores both sell and guess what, there are still liquor stores. So…..

  • Russ

    This Bill hurts small businesses in Colorado, Sends profits to out of state Big Grocery Chains, but worst of all promotes unsafe Liquor sales by un-educated Grocery Store clerks.

  • Alex M

    I live in California, however, I am from Colorado, and moving back shortly. In Cali we have liquor available to us in the grocery stores… Granted that is a great convinced when shopping for your groceries, if you have to have your weekly bottle of Jack to get by, well there it is right next to the peanut butter and canned tomatoes. However, what we are missing in California are local brewed beer in local stores sold by the local community. This is an important part of micro-economics that because of this seemingly insignificant, or convenient, law we are left without in California as well as other areas where this law abounds. Just something to think about when you go vote on things like this, if you want a thriving local community, you have to protect that community from larger corporations every once in a while.

  • Jen

    I am a liquor store owner and this law only makes sense if the number of liquor licenses are frozen. Otherwise, a smart Safeway would send out someone to set up a liquor store and then “sell” it to them to convert to a to a drugstore license.

    I put all my savings into my small store and the wholesale prices are set by a virtual monopoly. One distributor carries Jack Daniels and he tells me what I will pay. I have to make enough profit to pay electricity (you want cold beer? electricity is expensive!), pay employees, rent, taxes, etc. A supermarket has entirely different economics. They tell the distributor what they will pay, because they are so large.

    What’s that you say? I should have stayed out of it if I couldn’t play with the big boys? Well, when I started, the rules were, the big boys couldn’t play. The size of my store was fine. Now, because of customer convenience, the rules are going to change, and probably put me out of business. So we need to protect the family liquor store owner, who has played by the rules the whole time. Either make the licenses worth money or kill this bill.

    If I can sell the store and use the money to start a different business trust me, I would, but it took many years for me to build it up to a certain revenue. Many years of little money, no vacation, etc. So the money has to be worth it.

  • Nice Website … Oh also digged!

  • Brady

    Anyone who has lived in a state that allows the sale of full strength alcohol (beer, wine spirits) AND who cares about quality and selection will know that when grocery stores get involved, they gravitate toward selling to the lowest common denominator. As was previously mentioned, it’s the top 20 sellers in beer, the top 20 sellers in wine, and so on and so forth.

    I read the bill, and the points made about that a grocery store can’t buy a license from a liquor store if another liquor store is 1000 feet from the grocery store is a short sighted “protection.” All it means is it will slowly delay the transition of moving the business to grocery stores. First, a couple grocery stores get the license, they see a small rise in sales and traffic. An independent liquor store sees a slight decline in business, or maybe even the liquor store is 1100 feet away and sees a sharp decline in business. He sells to another grocery store … it becomes a cycle. After not too long, the little guys can’t compete with the grocery stores, and we’re all stuck buying bad Budweiser and Gallo.

    Don’t believe me? Look at other states. Michigan and California allow full strength sales in grocery stores … their selections are usually limited and prices aren’t really any better. Add to that, there are very few specialty liquor stores to be found. At least now, there’s usually a liquor store next to most grocery stores, so if you really need to combine the trip, you needn’t go further than across the parking lot.

    Anyone who supports this law either doesn’t care about small business, or doesn’t care about their booze.

  • Hello Brady,

    Thank you for visiting and sharing your feedback.

    You’re points about the law were all good – valid points. I am not sure where you live, but we live next to a state that allows full strength beer in grocery stores (NH).

    As the popularity of craft beer grows, grocery stores are listening. We can go to our local grocery store and pick up a 12 pack of smuttynose IPA or a 4 pack of dogfish head 90 min – right next to the 30 rack of PBR.

    Change is always difficult for someone. Recently in Colorado (meaning last couple of years), the laws were changed to allow the small stores to open/sell on Sunday’s. This changed helped the craft beer market and the small stores – and there are more changes that need to take place (i’m sure that everyone will agree on that).

    [Please note that I am not fully verse in every aspect of the law – but I understand the main part of the proposal].

    Although it’s not a perfect world, getting more craft beer to the consumers is a good thing. Lets get it in every store that we can… small stores, big stores, yellow stores, blue stores. Lets get the beer in the hands of the consumer – and we’ll all win.

    This is business and nothing is ever equal. It’s true that some small stores will close and some new ones will open up – that’s for sure. In the short term, it could be more loss than gain. If a law every passes (and it might in the future) small stores will have to differentiate themselves inorder to survive.

    The local stores here compete with Tax Free NH – and they survive. The small stores that survive sell something that is different (i.e. better variety, education classes, tastings and events). They are on the front lines, brining in the new local brewery – educating consumers.

    Although it’s hard to support something where there will be small business loss, it’s the nature of the beast. I understand that the law was dropped in 2010 and that’s fine with me. If a law is proposed next year, we’ll be following the progress. If something is every passed, I do hope that “we” write to our grocery stores and tell them what we want on the shelf.

    Thanks for your feedback.


    Drink Craft Beer, You’ve Earned It!!!

  • eleanor

    I went to kings soopers to grocery shop and they had beer so I decided to buy some and the manager refused to sell the beer cause my 15 yr old son didn’t have a 21 id……wtf so I left my groceries and won’t shop there.

  • Eleanor,

    Thank you for visiting our website and commenting on our blog. Your situation does not seem great, but it’s really not relevant to this post.

    Although it’s a pretty crappy situation, the store has full rights to refuse the sale if they feel that the situation is strange and/or potentially illegal. I’m sure that this is a unique situation and this won’t happen to everyone.

    Thank you for sharing your feelings and comments. I hope that you were purchasing craft beer 🙂


    Drink Craft Beer, You’ve Earned It!!!

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