February 3, 2023

Dawson County Journal

Dawson County, Nebraska

Small businesses differ on alcohol delivery measure

DENVER (KDVR) — It could be easier to have happy hour at your house if two measures on the ballot pass this November. One measure opens the door for wine to land on grocery store shelves. The other would allow third-party delivery apps to bring them to your door.

Potential impacts on small businesses have been a concern for many considering their vote, but some small businesses are now saying the measure could help them.

Two types of small businesses have two different answers. Restaurants and liquor stores are at odds over whether third-party apps should join the list of ways Coloradans can enjoy their booze.

Family-owned liquor stores like Argonaut Wine and Liquor fear businesses like theirs and their smaller colleagues will really feel the impacts of the measure if it passes.

“It would be devastating,” said Josh Robinson, co-owner of Argonaut Wine and Liquor. “These [all three wine-related initiatives] are giant cash grabs by huge, you know, national, multinational corporations to try to export the liquor industry from the local community that’s been running it for, since the repeal of prohibition, over to themselves. In Colorado, we are hyper-local-focused, and we love our local businesses. I really just want to see the local market continue to flourish like it has over the last close to 100 years.”

Opposition on the other side of the argument is ramping up. On top of new ads circulating and nudging voters to approve alcohol delivery and wine in grocery stores, the Colorado Restaurant Association is now backing the delivery proposal too, saying they want restaurants — who have been enjoying to-go alcohol services thanks to lawmakers acting during the pandemic — to be able to make those sales permanently.

“Without the ballot initiative passing, it ends in July of 2025. So a lot of businesses are a little bit hesitant to really build a business model around alcohol to-go. But by making it permanent, you give them that assurance that it is going to be around and they can make it part of their business model,” said Nick Hoover, Colorado Restaurant Association’s manager of government affairs. “We actually even, earlier in July of this year, surveyed our membership on to-go alcohol and third-party delivery, and 75% of those respondents informed us that they would like to see alcohol to-go from a third party and if it existed, they would utilize it. So it is a part of the business that we’ve known has been important for a while.”

Robinson said alcohol deliveries from restaurants are not what liquor stores are worried about.

“I know people who have bought wine from restaurants and things, like that’s great, we welcome that competition. What we don’t want to see are these giant out-of-state corporations coming in and profiting off of moving the market away from us, and from those restaurants, and from those smaller independent liquor stores and to themselves and through their own delivery services and through their own apps,” Robinson said.

Small alcohol retailers say they are working to educate the public on their concerns while restaurants believe customers who already enjoy the to-go alcohol will vote to keep those services going.

Source: Rocky Mountain News