Some Vail Valley retailers wary of Sunday sales |

Some Vail Valley retailers wary of Sunday sales

Scott N. Miller
Vail, CO, Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Peter Struve knows his store will be open on Sundays soon. He’s just not quite sure of the details yet.

The Colorado Legislature has sent a bill to Gov. Bill Ritter that allows liquor stores to open on Sunday. The bill ” which Ritter is expected to sign ” basically repeals a law that dates to the end of national liquor prohibition in the 1930s. If the bill becomes law, Sunday sales will start July 5.

“My question right now is Sunday hours,” said Struve, owner of Mac’s Liquor in Gypsum. “In the fall, NFL games start at 11 a.m., so we’ll probably have to open at 10 a.m. We’ll probably stay open until 5 or 6 p.m.”

For Struve, whose store is closest to the warehouse liquor store adjacent to Costco, opening on Sunday is the latest bump in his business planning. But, for the moment, it beats the alternative of having to compete with grocery stores for beer and wine sales.

The state’s big grocery chains kicked off the year by proposing a bill that would allow those stores to sell wine and full-strength beer. Stores can now sell only beer that does not exceed 3.2 percent alcohol content, but can sell seven days a week.

Reacting to that bill, a group of the state’s liquor stores introduced their own bill that would allow liquor stores to stay open on Sunday.

The grocery store bill was shelved, and the liquor store bill worked its way through the legislature.

Avon Liquors co-owner Brian Kruse said he hopes his store sees a bump in sales from the new law. It better, because his costs are going to rise.

“I’m probably going to have to hire a new person,” Kruse said. In addition, his advertising bills will probably go up, at least at first, to tell people the store is open on Sundays.

Kruse said his tourist customers are generally “awestruck” when they learn they can’t buy liquor on Sundays. But, he added, he doesn’t really expect to sell a lot more.

“I think it might take sales from other avenues,” he said, referring to bars and grocery stores.

And, while the grocery stores didn’t get their bill this year, they aren’t going away.

“They’ve been very clear that they have a five-year strategy of getting wine and full-strength beer in their stores,” said Scott Chase, a lobbyist with Politicalworks, a company that has helped the state’s liquor stores shepherd this bill through the process. “It remains their number-one legislative priority.”

If that happens, Alpine Wine and Spirits, inside the Vail City Market store, will probably stay right where it is. Store manager Mickey Werner said his shop’s lease has a non-compete clause with City Market.

If the grocery store does start selling beer and wine, Werner said his store can still do something his big neighbor can’t.

“We’re about customer service grocery stores just can’t do,” Werner said.

But while stores’ costs will certainly go up, Werner wonders whether sales will rise that much.

“Most states that have repealed their Sunday bans see a spike in sales, then it evens out,” Werner said.

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930, or

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