Local Liquor Store Owners Upset Over Alcohol Sales Bill

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Buying wine and full strength beer at a liquor store is a common sight in Colorado. But if one Denver lobbying group has its way, that could change.

The Kenney Group, which represents grocery mega-chains Safeway and Kroger, wants to get a law passed that would allow grocery stores to sell wine and full strength beer.

"It's a way to provide that extra level of convenience for customers who've asked for it and desire it," said Sean Duffy, a lobbyist with the Kenney Group.

The group says liquor stores have had a monopoly on full strength beer and wine for a long time, and that people should be able to shop for both items while they're buying food.

Local liquor store owners, however, don't share the same outlook. They say there's already enough competition among liquor stores.

"We want to keep money in the community, rather than sending it out of the community to a corporation," said Monty Haltiner, manager of Crossroads Wines & Spirits.

Supporters argue that in states like California, where grocery stores can sell wine and full strength beer, liquor stores do very well.

But business isn't the only thing liquor store owners are worried about. They say if this effort moves forward, it could mean a step backwards in the fight against underage drinking and illegal purchasing.

"It's not supposed to be something that's a convenience factor," said Haltiner. "It's supposed to be something that's managed properly.

Supporters, however, feel grocery stores have done a good job with that.

"Grocery stores have a long history in Colorado of selling beer safely and responsibly," said Duffy.

The Kenney Group says the bill will be sponsored by State Senator Brandon Shaffer, (D) Fort Collins, and should be introduced on the floor of the General Assembly by the end of the week.

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