Grocery stores in Colorado will be able to sell full-strength beer and liquor next year, making this the biggest change to state liquor laws in decades.

A bill signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper Friday allows for a 20-year phase-in for grocers to acquire liquor licenses, and by the year 2037, there’d be no limit to the amount of licenses a company can hold. 

The bill is a compromise between big box retailers and small independent liquor stores, who feared if a November ballot measure passed to allow big box realtors to sell full strength beer right away, it would hurt business.  Governor Hickenlooper, calling the outcome not perfect, said he personally would prefer to keep the status quo.

“In the end I think independent liquor stores really did make a strong argument that I might not be the governor when the next initiative comes in two years, four years and might now have someone so in tune to what it’s like to be a small business or sympathetic to the challenges that small businesses face,” Hickenlooper said.