Editorial – Liquor decision will help define Granby
Granby faces a defining moment next week depending on how it decides the issue of whether it will grant a license to the liquor store proposed near City Market.Let’s be clear: We, of all businesses, understand how tough the economic climate is in Grand County. We understand the reflexive flight-or-fight impulse of the group of downtown Granby businesses who have united in asking town trustees to deny the license and who have generally taken aim at all businesses in what some are referring to as “East Granby.”We also understand how wrong they are.The ostensible argument suggests that those businesses will compromise the vitality of downtown Granby. On an individual, case-by-case basis, that may be temporarily true. In the greater scheme of things, however, development in that area could help downtown.Opponents of the liquor store cite three primary factors: Granby’s liquor needs are being met, there is a finite “pie” that would be further divided by the new store, and town officials should be worried that the store would be next to a McDonald’s.Whether Granby’s liquor needs are being met is debatable.The town, despite innuendo to the contrary, has only two liquor stores. The store inside the Inn at SilverCreek is not within town borders and does not fall under the town’s legal purview. Further, it is not particularly well known, has no outside signage, is quite small, and has limited hours.The two downtown stores serve the needs of the downtown area, but they are not especially convenient for customers who live in the southeast end of Granby, which extends nearly to the top of Red Dirt Hill, nor for residents of nearby unincorporated areas.The proposed liquor store would be far more convenient for thousands of customers who may or may not currently shop in Granby. In addition, if town trustees deem that the town’s liquor needs are being met, they will hamstring the town’s ability to grant liquor licenses for any other businesses – including the Kum & Go store and any new restaurants that may arise – absent a significant increase in population. Ditto expansions of the existing liquor stores.As for the supposed finite “pie,” conducting business is not a zero-sum proposition. Businesses succeed by implementing measures to expand their customer base. Successful businesses are proactive: They take steps to adapt and compete rather than trying to erect barriers to competition.There is no reason to believe the proposed store would merely cannibalize the customer base of the existing stores. In light of the selection 3,500 square-feet of floor space could accommodate, it’s reasonable to expect the store would attract new customers from, say, the Red Dirt Hill and Winter Park Highlands areas, as well as visitors and second-home owners who currently shop out of county.That would add much-needed tax revenues to town coffers, which could use the infusion now that bond-premium revenues from developments earmarked for downtown improvements are nonexistent.In fact, given the moribund state of some major real estate projects in Granby that were supposed to subsidize downtown improvements, new commercial operations such as those under construction near City Market may represent the only new source of funds for downtown Granby improvements for the foreseeable future.As for the store’s proximity to McDonald’s and the possible influence of demon rum on our children, it’s almost beneath mention.Suffice it to say that both existing liquor stores, Kum & Go, 7-Eleven, and virtually every downtown restaurant that serves beer, wine or liquor are two miles closer to Granby schools and places where children and teens already hang out. None of those outlets attempted to sell alcohol to minors during the most recent compliance check, and there’s no cause to think the proposed store will be any less diligent in that regard.More importantly, Granby needs to decide how it will be perceived: Is it a town where, once consistent legal and regulatory requirements are met, business investments are welcomed – even encouraged -and everyone is treated fairly? Or, is a parochial town where local government uses its authority to tilt the playing field toward select, favored businesses and where investors should fear to tread?To a significant extent, those questions will be answered next Tuesday night.
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