Carefully consider grocery wine/beer sales

By Veronica Minch


Dear Editor:

Judging from the number of expensively printed fliers I have received in the last 10 days, it appears that some entity is very serious about promoting the sale of wine and full strength beer in Colorado's grocery stores. Personally, being a very light drinker, I'm not terribly concerned about the convenience of being able to pick up beer in the same store where I get my groceries. However, I do have some serious concerns about this ballot issue.

In case you haven't noticed, almost all of the grocery stores in this area belong to large chains whereas the liquor stores are owned by local individuals. If a large percentage of beer and wine sales is diverted to the large chain stores, I think it is not only possible, but likely, that a substantial number of the locally owned businesses will fail, leaving their owners and employees without income.

Competition for shelf space in grocery stores is fierce, and there is a finite amount of shelf space available. If grocery stores dedicate shelf space to beer and wine, what other products will they no longer be able to display for sale? Will the pharmacy go away, or perhaps part of the frozen food section? Maybe the organic or diabetic food sections will be the ones to feel the axe, or you'll no longer be able to get those fresh baked goodies because the bakery is now the liquor section. On the other hand, grocery store managers might just reduce variety and selection of different products across the board, thereby creating space for the booze. Will it be your favorite brand that gets eliminated?

The fliers I have received make a big thing about getting local beers and wines on the shelves of the grocery stores. Once again, shelf space is finite and can a local brewmaster or vintner compete with Coors, Budweiser, Gallo, Carlo Rossi and other national brands for that shelf space? Oh yeah, I bet the locals will be represented, but in a very small way, and being allowed to display a few bottles of product is not going to make or break a local producer.

I went to the website indicated on the fliers but there is no information about who is behind this ballot proposal, just more of the same information that is presented in the mailings. Tonight I received a phone call from a polling organization and the poll was all about this initiative. At the end of the questions I asked the poll taker if she could tell me who is promoting the sale of beer and wine in Colorado grocery stores and she replied that she did not have that information available. So who is pushing this issue and why are they keeping themselves hidden?

Personally, rather than buying generic beers and wines in a grocery I would much prefer to patronize a liquor store where you can ask a knowledgeable proprietor which wine you should serve with lamb chops, or what are the characteristics of a particular local vintage, or you want an IPA that isn't too "hoppy." The liquor store owner can probably give you a good answer whereas a grocery store clerk won't have that kind of in-depth knowledge of the products.

Your vote is your own to cast however you choose, but think about some of the side issues rather than the convenience of one-stop shopping before you cast that crucial and valuable vote.

Veronica Minch
Hotchkiss