FORT COLLINS, Colo. (KDVR) — A distributor of Australian wines based in Fort Collins says the law that allowed wine to be sold in grocery stores is having a harsh effect on his company and small liquor stores.
The law went into effect March 1. FOX31 covered the concerns of mom-and-pop liquor stores when it happened. But now distributors, like Australian Beverage Company, say grocery store wine is killing their bottom line.
Owner Bruce Clugston said that compared to last year, they’re down 40% with small liquor stores and 20% with larger stores. The company distributes to stores across the state.
“I’ve done very well with a lot of small retailers, and it’s — they are sort of my lifeblood, and I am talking to people now and no one is ordering anything,” Clugston said. “Here we are coming up on Thanksgiving and no one is ordering, because they don’t know if they are going to be able to survive.”
He said it comes down to foot traffic. Fewer customers means a lesser need for variety.
“We have products that even if I wanted to sell it to the large grocery chains, I have no way in the world I can do that,” Clugston said. “They aren’t interested in talking to me, they only want to talk to big corporate.”
For grocery store wine, zero distance required
Many of these liquor stores are located just feet from the doors of a grocery store. It’s something the original law as written would have prevented but was changed before it was put on the ballot.
“When they looked at doing a referendum initially, there was going to be — a grocery store couldn’t get a license to sell wine if another liquor store was within a thousand feet of the front door. Before it was actually voted on, it was changed to zero, and that is where the problem lies,” Clugston said. “If they had kept it at a thousand feet, these small mom-and-pop operations would have survived.”
The wine distributor said the variety and choice of wine will suffer, too. Those consumers who choose the grocery store route will not have as big of a selection or be around those with wine knowledge. Clugston said he feels the art will be lost with time if this law is not amended.