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Liquor store shows 'soft' sales after grocery store change

Starting on Jan. 1, grocery stores started selling full-strength beer.

DENVER — Grapevine Wine and Liquors has been in the family longer than Jay Nogami has.

"We were across the street there. My parents bought the store in 1991. Must have been 1993 we moved into this building, so 30 years, not bad," Nogami said. "Longer than I've been alive, you know."

Nogami manages his parents' business. Though it has been established for decades, he says things are now shaking up because grocery stores can sell full-strength beer.

"Obviously, it's a bit of concern because more competitors makes it a harder environment for us especially when they're right across the street," Nogami said.

King Soopers is actually across the same parking lot. Nogami says since King Soopers started stocking full-strength beer, sales at Grapevine have been slow.

"It was a pretty soft January. Part of that could be grocery stores. Part of that could just be because people weren't drinking in January because of resolutions," Nogami said. "But it seems like it's been pretty soft across the board."

Beer is Grapevine's bread and butter, according to Nogami.

"Our overall sales of beer typically run 40 to 45 percent," Nogami said.

King Soopers said their sales have been "great." 

"Our customers are loving their local craft beer and it shows, with over 45 percent of our sales being craft," Adam Williamson, King Soopers Corporate Affairs, said in a statement.

Nogami says it's hard to compete.

"If King Soopers took all our business, I mean, that's what, half a percentage point for their store and that's our entire livelihood," Nogami said. "So, it's a little concerning."

He said his store will have to rely on its loyal customers that have been coming in over the span of the last 28 years - people like Chris Fountain.

"I actually specifically came in here because I like their selection," Fountain said. "They have a lot of one-off smaller beers that aren't available in the grocery store - try to support the local store to keep them in business."

Nogami said he and his employees will also try to add a more personal touch.

"We can never be price competitive with a massive corporation who's in 30-some states," Nogami said. "So, really what we need. We need that extra touch. We need to be really knowledgeable. We need to be friendly. We need to know what we're doing. And, we need people to want to come here."

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