It’s time for one last toast, because your favorite liquor store is

Craig Hall, Publisher
Craig Hall, Publisher

You betcha. It’s a eulogy 20 years ahead of time. But that’s all this is, a matter of time.

Once again in a move we’re sure to be told we can’t possibly fathom the depth and intricacy of due to the fact we’ve never served in office, our elected betters have created a comprehensive solution to the greatest problem facing the people of Colorado: Where to buy booze. And as always, Senate Bill 197 will mess things up even more in an industry the government has no business being involved in and has been screwing up since its inception.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had a problem buying a 12 pack since I moved to this state. But then again, what do I know? I don’t feel the urge to pass a law about everything that should be a freedom. Nor will I run for office talking about freedom when the laws I pass are clearly against it.

Instead, I’ll just wait for the government to shut me down. Whether that takes 20 years or 20 minutes is probably dependent on how I feel about government intrusion in the marketplace. If that’s the case, bet on the 20 minutes. That is, if you can find a casino in your area willing to pay Denver tribute to exist, along with the monthly protection money to stay in business.

Here’s SB 197 in “plain English” as was forwarded to me. The bill allows businesses with liquor licensed drugstores (Kroger, City Market, Safeway/Albertsons, Walmart) to have 19 more licenses for selling beer, wine and spirits. Unless, of course, you are a stand-alone, licensed drug store like a Walgreens or Rite Aid, then you can’t. They are really making it inconvenient for a guy to have an oxycodone and Jack, aren’t they? Also, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Natural Grocers can’t play, either. How am I ever going to pair that perfect microbrew with my arugula now?

Even worse for convenience, there are no convenience stores in the bill. So much for that sad sounding mom with the full time job, three kids and cart full of groceries who will have to buy at City Market now. No quick fill up at the gas station —where you can still buy your state-sanctioned lottery tickets — with your Lime-arita for you. Nope, turns out it is about pleasing the big boys with the ears of our legislators and their crony capitalist partners, not us regular folks desperate for a drink, or so they said. I mean, why pass a law that makes convenience stores more convenient, when the real payoff is with the big boys?

Obviously, the cronyism nuts fall just fine from the power broker tree in D.C. to create its Denver saplings. And folks, it will only get worse. How long before other big retailers say to their all-too-willing politicos there should really be only one source for this, or one source for that. Because that’s what the big boys in our legislature and in the grocery business did. They used the little guys (convenience stores) as pawns by letting them think they would have some piece of the pie. They used the liquor store lobby by telling them it’s SB 197 or we give licenses to everyone. And, of course, they used the people by letting them think their convenience mattered in the decision. Typical.

And, yes, I know the bill also requires that the big boys buy out liquor licenses within a certain distance. But tell me how that helps with convenience? And tell me how that doesn’t put people out of work? Tell in what way does this help any of us by adding maybe 400 liquor licenses while putting who knows how many more out of business. Ever run into a chain grocery store in the middle of nowhere? I didn’t think so. Sounds a little less convenient, no?

Also, the bill allegedly assures the big chains can’t buy in bulk (they have to buy by individual store) and that there will be no warehousing allowed. Yup, and the Kennedys got rich by obeying that whole “prohibition” thing back in the day. After all, no crony, big business EVER found its way around the law. First off, the warehouses are already built for them. They are called distributorships, who are planning expansion while I type. And we all know there are no special deals in sales, especially the kinds for which the government runs protection.

But just to continue the rouse, here’s a table scrap for everyone left out. SB 197 creates a “working group” to develop an implantation process to take care of any problems in the legislation. We all know what that means. Meetings and junkets for the insiders to get together and drink and laugh at the little people. Because once a law is in effect, it never goes away. But feel better knowing there’s two — TWO — members of the public on the group. Better news, they report to our betters in the Colorado Senate to assure the special interests are happy.

You know who I want selling liquor, pharmaceuticals, pot, having gambling, running the ponies and possibly looking into hookers and dancers? The guy who lives a few doors down from me.

If it’s good enough for the government to control, why not everyone?