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Opinion: The Background on Prop 124 & 125

Updated: Nov 14, 2022

By Abby Miller

Pictured: A location of Total Wine & More. Photo Credit: Detroit Freedom Press

What was the name of the last locally owned florist you visited? And no, the King Soopers Floral Counter does not count.

What was the last locally owned hardware store you frequented, or the last independent grocer?

Big box conglomerates have been inching out Colorado’s local businesses for decades, along with the elements of community and economic prosperity that come with them.

This November, Colorado voters will be the ones to decide whether a certain variety of small business stays or goes: locally-owned liquor stores.

Such decision making will occur when votes are cast for or against Propositions 124 and 125.

Proposition 124

If Proposition 124 were to pass, it would gradually increase the number of liquor store locations that an individual or business could own until 2037.

After this date all limits would be lifted, which would allow any business or person to own an unlimited number.

Total Wine & More, who currently owns 229 locations nationally, has contributed to Proposition 124 in the amount of $5.7 million, according to data available by the Colorado Secretary of State

The company owns three locations, the maximum under current Colorado law, meaning that the passing of 124 would directly equate to their own ability to expand.

But for the nearly 1,700 independently owned and operated liquor stores in Colorado, increasing locations even two-fold is an unrealistic prospect.

Without the resources of multi-billion-dollar companies like Total Wine & More, locally owned liquor stores will be left with a limited ability to compete.

This could create an uneven playing field and eventual oligopoly in the industry.

Proposition 125

The passing of Proposition 125 would allow grocery and convenience stores to sell wine.

This proposition may feel like a bit of déjà vu. In 2019, full-strength beer made its way into Colorado grocery stores for the first time when senate bill 18-243 into effect.

While the ability to pick up a Cabernet with your ingredients for dinner may sound convenient, such convenience could come at a steep cost.

When comparing the number of liquor stores in states that have allowed wine to be sold in grocery stores, versus states that have not, it is clear that not only will the overall number of liquor stores decrease, but it will be the locally owned establishments that will go out of business first.

Take Georgia and Ohio for example, states which allow wine to be sold in grocery stores. These states currently have about two-thirds the number of liquor stores as Colorado, but about double its population. This discrepancy suggests that while demand may still be met if 125 passes, less liquor stores will be needed, putting many in jeopardy of closing.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the feelings, attitudes, or beliefs of Front Range Community College, the Front Range Reporter, or any of their affiliates.

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