Liquor Sales at Wal-Mart Is Not The End Of The World
I understand there's a continued debate in the Colorado legislature over the sale of hard liquor in big box stores. Back where I'm from it's been that way for years and local liquor stores seem to be doing just fine.
I've seen both sides of this debate first-hand. I lived for years in Missouri, a state that allows real beer and hard liquor sales in big box stores like Wal-Mart and Target. I just moved here from Kansas, a state that doesn't allow sales of 5% beer and booze in any store other than a licensed liquor store.
As the Colorado bill moves its way through the state legislature that will allow more Wal-Marts and other big-box stores to sell liquor, it's not the end of the local liquor store.
The fact is people don't shop at the big box stores for booze. Sure, you may grab a jug of something while you're at Sam's Club but it's not your destination when it comes to spirits, and never will be. That really is the difference. Back in Missouri, where hard liquor has been legal to purchase at Wal-Mart for years, the liquor store industry continues to grow. Brown Derby, a local Springfield, MO chain, has actually added more stores in the market over the last decade or so. The fact is the more competitive any retail market, the less expensive the products, and the real winners are the consumers.
The debate comes a year after Colorado made its biggest alcohol sales change since the end of Prohibition by allowing more retailers to sell 5% beer. Critics say the law allowing liquor sales in Wal-Mart could devastate family-owned liquor stores. From what I've observed, it's just not the case. Sure, will local stores need to be more creative and competitive, of course, but Target isn't your liquor expert and that's where the stores can really shine.
It looks too, the change will phase in over a 20-year stretch so locals will have time to work through the new law. Again, from this outsider's point of view, box stores aren't the problem becasue it's never going to be your destination to purchase booze. If I owned a local liquor store I'd be more concerned with the expanding recreational cannabis sales. That to me looks like the bigger challenge than the local Wal-Mart any day.