DENVER (CBS4) – Local liquor stores are preparing for big changes coming to their industry. On Friday afternoon Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill that will allow grocery stores to sell full-strength beer, liquor and wine.

You may get thirsty waiting for the change. It will be phased in over 20 years. It’s being touted as the biggest change to Colorado liquor laws since the end of prohibition.

Chains will be allowed 20 licenses over 20 years, but for every one they have to buy two from existing liquor stores. And if the liquor store is within 1,500 feet and refuses to sell the grocery store is out of luck.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“It buys us a lot of time to let this evolve more,” said Caroyln Joy, owner of Joy Wine and Spirits located down the street from a Safeway.

Joy says the bill is far from perfect, but had it not been signed herself and other small business owners would’ve been fighting a ballot initiative backed by major chains.

“There’s a bigger and bigger investment in that, and it gets harder and harder to fight,” Joy said.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Consumers have mixed opinions. Some appreciate the variety of a specialty store.

“They enable us to get what we want specifically that we can’t get at a lot of national chains,” a liquor store customer said.

While others narrowed it down to convenience.

“I don’t see why not, we come here for everything else,” a Safeway customer said.

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