Local businesses have been negatively impacted by a law that went into effect in March which allows grocery and convenience stores to sell wine.
The proposition was introduced in the 2022 election and was passed by voters. The law allows anyone with a license to sell beer to also sell wine.
Since March 1, locals have been able to buy wine at City Market, Walmart and Target, as well as convenience stores across town. Before, the only place consumers could pick up their wine was at liquor stores.
“We were quite upset about it, when it passed,” said Brittany Bagwell, who manages West Main Liquor. “Honestly momand- pop liquor stores are what this town runs on (as far as alcohol sales go.”
She said wine has typically accounted for about 20% of West Main Liquors sales and that since March, wine sales are down at least 15%.
“The wine is just moving really slow,” she said. To immediately try to compete with the bigger wine retailers, West Main has implemented sales. They’ve also aimed at expanding their variety of wines to hopefully capture customers looking for more specific or specialty wines.
Dominick Lajoy owns House of Spirits on East Main Street, and he’s familiar with this sort of change in law. He remembers corporate lobbyists vying for grocery stores’ rights to sell full-strength beer.
He says they were able to adjust and ultimately did fine after that law change took effect in 2019. He said grocery stores had a wide variety of local crafts to begin with but soon realized they didn’t sell the volume they needed to make it worth their while.
Lajoy travels to Denver once a month to scout new beers and offer a bigger selection of craft, which grocery stores can’t quite do like his store does.
Still, Lajoy worries about the future of mom-and-pop liquor stores, where 70% of his business is regulars. He says legislation that would allow for bigger liquor stores to move into communities like Montrose, which has small liquor stores across town, would devastate several mom-and-pop shops.
“It might wipe out half of the liquor stores we have in town,” he said.
With that, he said, you would likely see a net drop in employment, which would negatively affect the local economy.
The wine sale legislation did affect Lajoy’s sales a little bit, but he says his liquor store and others like it offer something grocery stores can’t compete with.
“At the grocery store, it takes longer to park your car, go in to where the wine is and pick it out and leave,” he said. “Liquor stores are designed for quick and easy access and, plus, we do delivery.”
justin Tubbs is the Montrose Business Times editor. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org mailto:email@example.com
or by phone at 970-765-0915 or 254-246-2260.