June 10, 2016
Yesterday, Governor Hickenlooper signed House Bill 197, which allows, over the next twenty years, grocery stores to expand the number of liquor licenses they can hold from one to twenty. As you might guess, even though this is what everyone is calling a "compromise bill", it still amounts to a slow death for many of the independently owned liquor stores that Coloradans love. That's why we need our customers, now more than ever, to come through for us. We need you to stick with us. We also ask you to tell just two of your friends about Jewell Liquors. Send them in and we'll treat them right IF THEY MENTION THAT A REGULAR CUSTOMER SENT THEM IN, WE WILL GIVE THEM 10% OFF THEIR FIRST PURCHASE! If you want to see Jewell Liquors continue to exist and to thrive in the future, we need to build on what we have established over the past fifteen years. If not, we may fall victim to the convenience of grocery store shopping like so many other stores most certainly will. We love our customers and know that you can all help us through what promises to be a very challenging time. Thanks for your loyalty to Jewell Liquors. We so appreciate your business, your friendship and your confidence in us.
Tod Fitzke, Owner/President
May 11, 2016
As I sit here this afternoon, the Governor is likely to sign House Bill 197 passed by the State Legislature. It is a compromise bill that resulted from the threatened ballot initiative by large chain grocery stores that would allow full-strength beer and spirits to be sold by them. It will also finally do away with 3.2 beer in Colorado. The law allows grocery stores up to twenty new licensed locations over the coming twenty years. There are some modest buyout provisions, geographic rules, as well as other rules that will apply to these newly created liquor licenses. However, for the most part, the bill sets Colorado on a path of losing a significant portion of its locally owned, independent liquor stores to large corporate interests, such as Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, Sam's Club, King Soopers and Safeway. I'd like to thank Jeanne McEvoy of the Colorado Licensed Beverage Association for her tireless effort to stop or minimize the effects of this evolution in Colorado's liquor environment. She never gave up, and she negotiated the terms of the bill that most benefit the retail liquor industry. However, although the compromise bill may extend the time that some stores survive, I believe that the ultimate impact will remain the same -- the craft beer industry will suffer a huge curtailment in availability and your local liquor stores will eventually start to disappear.
We at Jewell Liquors believe that we can survive these changes. However, it will take help from our customers. We ask that you not only continue to support us, but that you also tell your friends about your shopping experience at our store. We can't survive the unknowns in our future without your help. We pledge to continue to carry every craft beer and spirit possible in support of our phenomenal local brewers and distillers. After all, they are what make Colorado's craft beverage industry so great. That's our responsibility to you as a full-service liquor store. We hope, in return, that you remain a loyal customer and tell your family, friends and neighbors about us. Thanks so much for making our store great over the past fifteen years.
January 19, 2016
Well, we haven't won the fight yet, but "Your Choice Colorado", the group pushing to place on next November's ballot the right of grocery stores to carry full-strength beer, wine and liquor, has made some concession in its quest to destroy the Colorado craft beer industry and to take down your local, independently owned liquor stores. It was reported last weekend that they would be giving up on trying to include liquor in the proposed bill set to appear on statewide ballots in November, 2016. While this is helpful to our cause, we are not giving up the fight to keep full-strength beer and wine out of our grocery stores, as well, and need your vote to make that happen. Please vote "no" next November on this measure.
December 17, 2015
When I bought Jewell Liquors in June, 2014, I had no idea what changes were in store for me and my store. Now, six months after our shopping center's anchor store, Safeway, has closed, large corporate interests are trying to destroy Colorado's craft beer and independently-owned liquor store culture by persuading you, the voter and customer, to vote for an initiative that permits the sale of full-strength beer, wine and spirits in grocery stores. We need to stop that effort.
The loss of Safeway as an anchor in our shopping center has seriously impacted our business. If this bill also passes, it could be catastrophic to us. As a lawyer and businessman, I have always been an advocate of free market enterprise. However, in this instance, Colorado is a unique case. Colorado is one of only eight states left that permit a party to hold only one liquor license. Most people are unaware of that. These states, and this philosophy, are a rare and dying breed. This concept prevents large corporate interests (often out-of-state) from dominating, and even taking over, the market created and fostered by the craft industry and your independently-owned liquor store here in Colorado. These companies send profits back to their corporate headquarters in other states, often to no benefit of those of us here in Colorado.
When big stores are legally permitted to obtain multiple liquor licenses, they then have the ability to put full-strength wine and spirits in all of their stores. They will undercut your local liquor store by buying in large quantities and slashing their prices. Sound good? It shouldn't. Think about the lack of customer service you get in your local chain grocery store. It's non-existent, for the most part. And it's not the fault of the employees. They are not trained to offer customer service or expertise in the products they carry. They are trained to stock shelves and operate registers. Imagine if they were carrying products such as beer and spirits crafted here in Colorado. It's doubtful that they will be trained to offer the kind of service and expertise you receive in your local liquor store. Their shelf space will be limited. So, guess what they will carry? Bud Light and Jack Daniel's. There won't be shelf space available for your favorite craft beer or whiskey. They will no longer be able to compete on a level playing field with uneven, unfair and diminishing distribution.
Think of all your favorite local producers who will be impacted: Dry Dock Brewing, Left Hand Brewing, New Belgium Brewing Company and Breckenridge Brewery, to name a few. Check out this link to see the complete list of Colorado breweries that will be impacted -- www.coloradocraftbrews.com/colorado-breweries/. This is only a list of the craft beer producers. Think of all the distillers of spirits and vintners of wine on the Western Slope that will also be affected. In short, the grocery stores won't create a mini liquor store inside their existing stores. They will have a small section for only the largest names in the business. You will no longer have one-stop shopping when it comes to your purchase of alcohol and your favorite craft beverages will be left out in the cold.
Most agree that the chain of distribution will become so skewed toward placing big name products in grocery stores that the craft industry will suffer greatly. They don't seem to care. Many think this could be the demise of the craft industry. In addition, you can probably imagine the lack of oversight that will occur when it comes to checking IDs of underaged buyers. This will be time-consuming and less effective in keeping alcohol out of the hands of minors. Your local liquor store is best staffed and equipped to ensure that IDs are checked regularly and done with the most efficiency.
Please help me and every other liquor store owner, as well as all of the local brewers, vintners and distillers of craft beer, wine and spirits survive and thrive by voting NO on the statewide ballot initiative that will appear on your ballot in November, 2016. Don't be fooled. They are not acting in the best interests of Colorado small businesses and craft industry producers.
From all of us in the liquor business here in Colorado, we sincerely thank you for your continued patronage and hope that we will have your vote to defeat this effort next November.