Mar 012010
Authors: Katelyn McNamara

Though the Colorado legislature killed a bill last week allowing convenience stores and gas stations to sell full strength beer, Congress will consider a bill permitting groceries stores to do so later this month.

The decision to kill last week’s bill, House Bill 1186, was a victory for local liquor storeowners, but the fight isn’t over as they face a potential loss of business to grocery stores.

Matt Dinsmore, owner of Wilbur’s Total Beverage, located on South College Avenue, is thankful that last week’s bill did not pass. It was shot down 8-3.

“We have one cash flow and one cash stream, and that’s it,” Dinsmore said. Unlike a 7-Eleven, which can sell everything from firewood and gasoline to Slurpees and condoms, Wilbur’s has one product to sell to make a profit.

“You’re trying to transfer our one income stream to your large income stream,” he said. “This is our livelihood.”

Wilbur’s provides jobs to about 40 employees and donates about $60,000 to charities each year, Dinsmore said. Wilbur’s Total Beverage has been profitable, supporting three generations of Dinsmore’s family thus far.

Colorado is currently one of six states in the U.S. including Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma and Utah, that restrict convenience stores to the sale of 3.2 percent beer.

Amber Jaquez, an employee at the 7-Eleven at the intersection of Shields and Mulberry Streets, said she understands the reasons for the bill’s failure.

“I think it’s OK, because I think if we sold beer, we would outsell liquor stores since most of them are individually owned and not part of a big chain.”

Tyler Tripp, a senior journalism major, said he disagrees with the recent killing of HB 1186.

“Since liquor stores are open on Sundays, now I think it’s dumb that all stores can’t sell full strength beer,” he said. “They should be able to — to give them a chance to compete with liquor stores in alcohol sales.”

For Dinsmore, however, the change could close the doors of a business that has supported his family for three generations.

“We don’t want to give it up,” he said. “Without it we’re done.”

After several attempts, Fort Collins employees of King Soopers, Whole Foods Market, and Safeway were not willing to comment on this upcoming legislation.

Staff Writer Katelyn McNamara can be reached at

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