The “David vs. Goliath” battle at the heart of Colorado’s liquor votes

Colorado voters appear to be rejecting changes to the state’s liquor laws

Sam Tabachnik
The Denver Post
Becky Pinzenscham, general manager of Big Fella Wine and Liquor in Bennett, Colorado, works behind the refrigerators at the store on Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. David Ross, who owns the liquor store, supports Proposition 124 to allow for liquor store owners to operate more locations.
Eli Imadali/Special to The Denver Post

Coloradans, in a series of surprise results Tuesday, overwhelmingly rejected one measure that would have allowed liquor stores the ability to operate unlimited locations. In another, citizens seem to have shot down a vote that would have permitted third-party companies like Instacart to deliver alcohol to your home. And a third vote — allowing wine to be sold at grocery and convenience stores — is trailing in a vote that’s still too close to call.

Polling before the election showed voters overwhelmingly supported both the wine measure (Proposition 125) and the delivery referendum (Proposition 126). And the big businesses supporting their passage — such as the conglomerates behind King Soopers, Safeway and DoorDash — had outspent the local retailers by a 47-to-1 margin.

“This really was a David vs. Goliath effort,” said Chris Fine, executive director of the Colorado Licensed Beverage Association, which opposed all three propositions. “Colorado voters saw through some of the convenience pieces and said, ‘convenience at what cost?’”

Owners of independent liquor stores like Joy feared what the measures might do to their bottom lines — if they didn’t run them out of business altogether.

After a 2019 law change allowed grocery stores to sell full-strength beer, most small liquor stores in the Colorado Licensed Beverage Association saw at least a 30% drop in sales, Fine said.


Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.

Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.