Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Open Container: Liquor Store Saved

Posted By on September 28, 2010, 9:42 AM

My neighborhood liquor store is staying open.---

The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control's commissioners voted today to keep the Main Street liquor store after Salt Lake City officials, Sen. Ben McAdams and many, many residents urged them to cancel the planned closure on Oct. 1. The vote was unanimous.

The store, located in Salt Lake at 1600 S. Main St., was supposed to close because of mandates from the Legislature that the DABC streamline its operations. In practical application, it was more of a "reduce access to alcohol" mandate, since the Main Street store -- like most liquor stores in Utah -- made plenty of revenue, more than $1 million annually. Despite those revenues, legislators cut the DABC budget last year and told them they had to find efficiencies, which included closing stores.

McAdams, D-Salt Lake, said that he had worked with staff to find ways to cut costs and was confident he could get $100,000 in additional money for DABC during the 2011 General Session to negate the need to close the store.

Bob Farrington, the director of economic development for Salt Lake City, told the commission during their monthly meeting on Tuesday that the store was an important component in their efforts to revitalize the business area in the Ballpark district.

"Part of the success of a district is a variety of goods and services," Farrington said. "The Main Street liquor store is important to that district ... to shut down a successful business in that district could have some negative impacts on other businesses."

Commissioner Sam Granato echoed that sentiment, saying that closing the store would have a "domino effect on the whole area."

The commission only discussed their decision briefly, and primarily focused on what would happen if the Legislature did not cover the shortfall as McAdams hoped. Executive director Dennis Kellen said that the risk is that they would have to take even more drastic measures, such as "closing a couple of stores ... I don't want to be the director who has to deal with those shortfalls."

McAdams, however, assured them that he thought the money would come. That seemed to satisfy commissioners, who quickly voted to keep it open.

All of this will be welcome news to staffers at the store and frequent customers, including yours truly and other City Weekly staffers. Employees and customers see this store as as close to a neighborhood liquor store as possible in Utah, instead of just a place to get booze. It's a place where the clerks actually do know many customers names and dog biscuits are provided so that people don't leave their pets in hot cars. On Saturday, for instance, there was great vibe in the store because all of the staff were optimistic about their chances based on McAdams' involvement and, more importantly, the previous day's delivery of their October stock.

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