Vail liquor store owner opposes strong-beer sales at chain stores |

Vail liquor store owner opposes strong-beer sales at chain stores

Tom Mullen
Vail, CO, Colorado

As the owner of the West Vail Liquor Mart in West Vail, I have serious concerns about proposed legislation that would allow large, out-of-state-owned chain grocery stores, convenience stores, Wal-Mart, and big oil-owned gas stations to sell strong beer in Colorado.

For the past 20 years I have put all of my efforts toward making my small business successful for myself, family, employees and the community in which I live. Like many in this community, I have embraced the area for its diversity of people, businesses and the many opportunities that come with living here. Creating a business environment that further reduces our choices to cookie-cutter-type models is not in the collective interest of our community.

Small businesses make up an extremely important and vital part of the Colorado economy. Most small retailers made their investments under a set of rules that fostered the growth of small family-run businesses without the threat of large special interests. The homogenization and poor service that follow when large chains gain additional market share will not benefit our community.

The West Vail Liquor Mart has taken pride in being a solid community partner. I provide my employees with a very high compensation package for the retail industry. In addition the West Vail Liquor Mart provides private, company owned housing for 70 percent of its employees and provides this housing at well below market rates. We have consistently donated large sums of money to local non-profits that support education, conservation, recreation and the arts. The legislation proposed, if passed, will largely curtail my ability to be successful and will reduce my ability to continue to offer these types of community benefits.

Just like virtually every small business, I support the community by using the help of other local small businesses. When I need repairs, maintenance, bookkeeping-accounting and insurance services, I use other privately owned businesses to fulfill those needs.

In other words, the money I make and the money I spend stays in our valley and in Colorado. It will be better for this community, in this recessionary climate, if the law does not change because large corporate expenditures and profits leave the community and Colorado.

I take the responsibility of not selling to minors very seriously and my staff is trained at the direction of state and local officials (including law enforcement) to see this responsibility through. I do not allow minors to come into my store. I am a small business owner with much to lose if I sell to minors. My entire store may be closed if I sell to minors.

If a grocery or convenience store sells to minors, their store will not be closed, they will continue to sell grocery and gas as they always have and will only be required to stop selling beer for a short time from just one store. All the while, their other stores will continue to sell.

Tom Mullen

Eagle-Vail, Owner of West Vail Liquor Mart

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