Proposed wine shop spurs liquor license debate
How many people does it take to support one liquor store? And just who should decide that question? If you ask Chris Irving, the marketplace has a way of figuring these things out.Irving wants to open a fine wine shop, called drink!, in the new Edwards Corner building. If the Eagle County Board of Commissioners, which serves as the liquor board, grants him a license, Irving’s store would be Edwards’ fourth. His idea, however, is facing opposition from owners of Edwards’ existing liquor stores.Beverly De Moss, owner of Riverwalk Wine & Spirits in Edwards, said she believes in competition and free enterprise. But adding another liquor store in Edwards would be “pure saturation,” she said. And that isn’t the only or the biggest reason why she said she is opposed to drink! Inc.”Our kids are growing up here,” De Moss added. “Should our message be … they should be able to get as much alcohol where ever they want?”Liquor licenses should be treated differently than standard business licenses, she said. DeMoss added that if drink! goes into the Edwards Corner building, all of the community’s liquor stores will be with steps of each other. Having so many liquor stores in such close proximity to each other could send the wrong message to the public, she said. Drink!’s first liquor license hearing took nearly 4 1/2 hours and the board ultimately decided to delay the vote after it was determined that the county’s notification of the hearing didn’t meet legal guidelines, said Dan Wolf, Irving’s attorney. South Forty Liquors, another store in Edwards, brought an attorney to the meeting to contest drink!’s application. Cindy Eskwith, owner of the store, declined to comment for this article.Wolf said the real issue is the local liquor stores don’t want the competition.”We suspect this is about them trying to protect their little monopoly in the liquor business,” Wolf said. Not just Edwards’ problemWolf said Irving’s shop is unique and wouldn’t compete directly with the existing stores in Edwards -South Forty, Riverwalk Wine & Spirits and Edwards Liquors. Irving doesn’t want to sell Budweiser and Corona; he wants to sell fine wines from around the world that are difficult to find locally. Moreover, Wolf said, competition shouldn’t be a reason to deny a liquor license.The debate in Edwards isn’t unique, though. Eagle has three full-service liquor stores, a wine shop and two more liquor stores are expected to open. Town Manager Willy Powell said the town just received an application for yet another liquor store.The two stores expected to open would be within blocks of each other on Broadway Street. The town received the applications within several days of each other and the liquor licensing authority – in this case, the town’s Board of Trustees – considered both applications on the same day.”It placed the board in somewhat of a difficult position because one of the criteria to consider is if you are meeting the needs of the community,” Powell said.
Ultimately, both liquor licenses were approved.One of the stores, Broadway Liquors, has a sign in the front window stating it will open soon. “We haven’t seen much activity from the other store,” Powell said. “In the last 10 years we have certainly seen liquor stores come and go and the market seems to work itself out.”Outnumbering churches? Avon’s Town Council decided to take another route. When an existing liquor store wanted to move across town to a location near Chapel Square, the council voted it down, said David Courtney, part-owner of Beaver Liquors. If that store had been allowed to move, it would have been in close proximity to Courtney’s store. The way Avon’s liquor stores are located now – one in the center of town, another near the east end, and another on the west end – is appropriate, Courtney said. He also opposes drink! and said competition isn’t the issue.”My main concern is just what kind of message we are sending to the community,” he said. “There are more liquor stores in Edwards than there are churches.”Irving said Edwards can handle four liquor stores.”The biggest thing is there used to be four liquor stores (in Edwards),” Irving said. “The other one closed because of violations – it wasn’t due to overconcentration.”And that was when Edwards had about half the population it has now, he added. True, all the liquor stores are located in roughly the same neighborhood, along the Edwards Spur Road and U.S. Highway 6. But that’s the only place in Edwards that is zoned for commercial retail, Irving said. “That’s where the stores have to fall,” Irving said.The board will consider the issue again on Aug. 2.Staff writer Tamara Miller can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or by calling 949-0555, ext. 607.Buying drinks
Liquor stores listed in the local phone book, by community:Avon:• Avon Liquor• Bachelor Wine & Spirits• Beaver LiquorsBeaver Creek:• Beaver Creek Fine WinesEagle: • Eagle Liquor Mart• Eagle Liquor Store• Sweet Waters Liquor StoreEagle-Vail:• Pier 13 LiquorsEdwards:
• Edwards Liquors• Riverwalk Wine & Spirits• South Forty LiquorsGypsum:• Gypsum Liquors• Mac’s LiquorsMinturn:• Highway 24 Store, Inc.• Minturn Mile LiquorsVail:• Alpine Wine & Spirits• Grappa Fine Wines & Spirits• Lionshead Liquor Store• Peregrine Wines & Spirits• West Vail Liquor Mart