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Colorado liquor store owner fears Prop 125 will put some out of business

The ballot initiative allowing wine sales in grocery and convenience stores was approved by voters this month.

DENVER — This time of year is typically a busy one for liquor stores in Colorado as shoppers gear up for the holidays.

This year, many liquor store owners are not just busy, but also extremely nervous.

"The unknown is scary, for sure," Carolyn Joy said. 

Joy is the owner of Joy Wine and Spirits, a Denver liquor store opened by her father in 1963. She's also part of the Colorado Licensed Beverage Association

Joy was a vocal opponent of Proposition 125, the state ballot initiative narrowly approved by voters earlier this month that will allow grocery and convenience stores to sell wine beginning March 1.

"It could be very devastating to my business," Joy said.

According to Joy, the passage of Proposition 125 will be bad not just for liquor stores losing business to grocery and convenience stores, but also bad for shoppers if independent liquor stores are forced to close.

"Consumers will lose selection," Joy said. "Grocery stores do not carry the amount or depth or breadth of product that we have." 

Joy said liquor stores near supermarkets could be especially vulnerable. Liquor stores had the same fears when grocery stores started selling full-strength beer in 2019. But the Colorado Department of Revenue found there were the same number of liquor stores in 2021 compared to 2017.

Joy said the passage of Proposition 125 will increase the number of stores in Colorado that sell wine by more than 1,000.  According to Joy, there are currently about 1,600 Colorado liquor stores licensed to sell wine. 

She said she's hopeful that her store will survive, but she's not certain.

"I'm anxious about what the future could bring," Joy said.



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