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Acting in their role as the Liquor Licensing Authority, the Salida City Council approved the liquor license application by Vitamin Cottage Natural Foods Market, doing business as Natural Grocers, to sell full-strength beer at its location at 200 F St. Salida. In a town with a significant tourism business component, the decision is significant.

Last year Colorado legislators approved legislation allowing grocery stores and convenience stores to sell regular strength beer beginning Jan. 1. Until then they were limited to offering 3.2 beer.

Natural Grocers Store Manager Eric Wilson was there to answer questions about the store’s request to offer regular strength beer in two doors of their refrigerated section. No one spoke out against the application during the public hearing.

Frank Scott spoke, representing the organization hired to do the background public survey (which indicates either public support for, or sentiment against, such applications.) The firm’s resume includes some 1,500 surveys and works for Walmart, King Soopers, Safeway and Loaf and Jug among many others). He said the survey showed that 91 percent of those surveyed favored the application for the license to offer “real beer” in the refrigerated area of the store, rather than 3.2 beer.

“When you remove those against it simply because they ‘had no need of the product” the local sentiment to allow Natural Grocers to offer regular beer rose to 99 percent,” said Scott.

The application was filed before the end of 2018, so the old form still indicates 3.2 beer, but the request is for full-strength beer. City Council Member Justin Critelli asked whether all liquor stores in the downtown area were surveyed.

“I see you have Salida Party Spirits, but I don’t see the Jug (Arlie Dale’s Jug Liquors), the other one in the downtown area,” said Critelli. “Did you talk to them? I saw a skip in a downtown business.”

Scott answered that they called upon all the downtown locations, but it might have been that there was no one there who could answer officially for the establishment. He pointed out that if they had objected, it would barely have impacted the strong sentiment to approve the application.

A motion to approve the application was made by Councilman Dan Shore and seconded by Jane Templeton. Approval was unanimous, with Councilman Mike Bowers absent from the meeting.