Routt County resident Geoff Blakeslee picks up some beverages from Central Park Liquor for a Wednesday barbecue. The store is one of the liquor stores in Steamboat Springs that has chosen to sell liquor on Sundays.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Routt County resident Geoff Blakeslee picks up some beverages from Central Park Liquor for a Wednesday barbecue. The store is one of the liquor stores in Steamboat Springs that has chosen to sell liquor on Sundays.

Sunday liquor sales bring in buyers

Some vendors report mediocre returns, but most are seeing dollar signs

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— Cellar Liquors customers are enthusiastic about Sunday liquor sales, Manager Chris Gibbens said.

"Everyone who's come in has said they love going straight from church to the liquor store," he said.

Gov. Bill Ritter signed a measure in April allowing liquor stores to open on Sundays. The new rule went into effect July 1. Grocery and convenience stores still are allowed to sell only beer that is 3.2 percent alcohol by weight.

A month into the new rule, most Routt County liquor stores are moving booze on that extra day, operators say.

Gibbens said he even would like to have the Lincoln Avenue store stay open during its regular hours, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., but staffing doesn't allow for that on Sundays. The store is open from noon to 8 p.m. instead.

At Central Park Liquor, Manager Greg Nealy was unenthusiastic. He said sales have been flat, taking away from Saturday or Monday business.

"It certainly hasn't been great by any means," Nealy said. "We're still deciding how we're going to handle it after we get through the summer."

At Little Beavers Liquor Store in Yampa, owner Terri Northrop said she was happy with the business she has done from noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.

"For me, especially because the Oak Creek liquor store hasn't been open, it's been great," Northrop said.

She and her husband, Doug, own the store on Moffat Avenue.

"It hasn't taken away from Saturday sales at all," Northrop said. "People were saying, 'It'll even out. : Instead of doing a $1,000 day on Saturday, you'll do two $500 days.' But it's been great being open, definitely. I don't know how long that's going to last, if it's the newness of the thing. : It's been worth it for me."

In Hayden, A-1 Liquor owner Nancy Venzke said Sunday has been just another day.

"Everybody seems to be happy about it," she said of customers.

Unfair market?

Jeanne McEvoy, executive director of the Colorado Licensed Beverage Association, leads a group that represents retailers of wine, spirits and beer. She said the response to Sunday sales has been good statewide, adding that the full impact won't be visible until a couple of quarters pass.

Stores limited to 3.2 beer are displeased with the initial impact, Sean Duffy said. Duffy is the spokesman for the Rocky Mountain Food Industry Association, a trade organization for grocers and convenience stores. Although no figures are available, he said some vendors had reported a 50 percent drop in beer sales.

"The thing with the convenience stores is, say somebody rolls into Steamboat and pulls up at a 7-Eleven to buy beer," Duffy said. "They don't just buy beer and leave. They get the chips, they get the dip - they stock up. But the reason they pull in is they buy beer at the 7-Eleven. Now they're saying, 'Oh, forget it, I can just grab gas and go to the liquor store.'"

He said his group planned to press the state Legislature on the issue, saying it was unfair that legislators were "picking winners and losers in the marketplace." Duffy said his group would encourage lawmakers to allow all retailers to sell the same product.

"It's our job to demonstrate not only to legislators but to the general public that there's no policy reason not to allow everyone to sell full-strength liquor seven days a week," he said.

Southside Liquors owner Ted Heid said he had seen decent Sunday sales. But the rule change is only the first step toward giving grocery and convenience stores their way, Heid predicted.

"Like I try to tell everybody, the 52 or 110 weeks they're going to give us before they give grocery stores wine and liquor sales, you're not going to make that up" with decent Sunday sales now, Heid said.

McEvoy said grocery and convenience stores already had been pushing to sell more than 3.2 beer.

"That's a red herring they used to push their agenda," McEvoy said. "There's nothing wrong with their agenda. : I think they don't realize how complex the liquor industry is and how regulated. It's not just you put a new box of cereal on the shelf. It's more complicated than that."

Comments

Ms_E_Bronte 6 years, 2 months ago

Seems a little ironic that with all the DUI's in the headlines these days liquor is now being sold on Sunday! Just an observation.

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ringalarm 6 years, 2 months ago

"Remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy"

A friend of all said this.

Everyone gets to make their own free choice.

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shiftworker 6 years, 2 months ago

Is it me or does geoff - the guy in picture look a little ashamed to be buying the stuff?

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 2 months ago

In the picture- it looks like the guy is using both arms to to carry some beer, push the door open, while trying not to have the bottle in the bag roll off the top and watch his step at the same time. Didn't look like shame to me, at least.

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steamboattalk 6 years, 2 months ago

That is poorly worded. "one of the ways of keeping the Sabbath involves a blessing over alcohol". The Bible distinguishes between fermented wine and new or freshly squeezed grapes. Calling both wine, but when looking at a concordance you find that the wine that is fermented is condemned and the wine that is fresh squeezed grapes is not.

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steamboattalk 6 years, 2 months ago

No matter how hard you thump your Bible if the "facts" were never in there to begin with they will never fall out.

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steamboattalk 6 years, 2 months ago

That is a sad thing to hear. "...they love going from the church to the liquor store." That sounds like a dead church to me. A church with dust covered Bibles. A social club of who's who. They resemble the world more than Jesus. If the church lifts up the world then that is who they will draw to them, but if a church lifts up Jesus then those who are alcoholics or addicts or whatever will be set free when they are drawn to Jesus. Nothing good ever came out of a liquor store. It is a curse on the owners and the customers. You don't have to look far to see it.

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shiftworker 6 years, 2 months ago

Steamboat talk

Agreed. Also noticed clevedave does not capitalize Bible. Maybe it means nothing to him.

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