In a few weeks, Salt Lake City customers may get relief from long checkout lines, lack of parking and limited booze selection at the state liquor store in Sugar House.
Remodeling is underway at the 1,904-square-foot store at 1154 Ashton Ave. that will more than double the amount of sales space, said Tom Zdunich, deputy director of the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (UDABC).
For the expansion, the UDABC is turning 1,925 square feet from the back of the building — now used for storage — into sales space, he said.
When complete on March 10, the store will have 3,825 square feet of sales space, which will allow for an expanded beer, wine and spirit selection. It also will create space for a fifth checkout line, up from the current four registers. Faster checkout should help alleviate parking congestion at the store, Zdunich said.
He said the remodel is being done within the existing UDABC budget for about $25,000 and without having to close the building.
"Given the lines in that particular store — that I and others have endured through the years — it’s a great idea," said Maggie Shaw, president of the Sugar House Community Council. "Around the holidays, the checkout line goes all the way to the back wall and bends around while people are trying to shop. I know people who will avoid it during peak time just because it’s such a zoo in there."
The number of customers at the store is likely to increase, too, with a new housing development about a block away expected to bring 1,000 residents to the area, Shaw said. "But they’ll be able to walk there."
The UDABC targeted the store for remodel several months ago after data showed that its annual "sales per square feet" was $2,106, the highest for all 42 state liquor stores and more than double the state average of $963.
The numbers show how efficiently the state liquor store system operates, said Zdunich, pointing to the average "sales per square foot" total of $787 for the top 20 retailers in the U.S. — which include Apple Stores, Tiffany & Co., Coach and LuluLemon Athletica.
"We have to be efficient," he said, "because we have a captive audience and we are handling state funds."
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