After 7 years, Utah’s liquor store drought is over

Posted at 3:56 PM, Jun 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-13 17:56:19-04

WEST VALLEY CITY — There was no ribbon-cutting or signs proclaiming a grand opening, because that might be illegal.

Employees just turned on the “open” signs and customers walked in to the state’s newest liquor store. By law, Utah’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is prohibited from promoting liquor sales (they merely sell and supply it).

The new store at 5600 West and 6200 South marks the end of a seven-year drought of state-run liquor stores.

The new West Valley City liquor store. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

“It’s growing out here and they really needed one,” said Karen Glenn, one of the first customers in the door on Tuesday. “The Kearns one was getting a little too crowded.”

DABC deputy director Cade Meier told FOX 13 the new West Valley City store is 13,600 square feet and features a section of exclusively Utah-made liquors.

According to a study released last year, the DABC could add 19 new stores just to keep up with consumer demand and population. Right now, Utah operates 44 liquor stores.

“We have one for every 48,000 citizens of Utah,” said Meier. “Yes, we are behind in that graph. But our stores can flex as demand increases. We’re seeing our bottle counts go up.”

A section of the new West Valley City liquor store will feature Utah’s Own products. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

Every year, the DABC makes hundreds of millions in liquor sales. But the Utah State Legislature controls its budget and decides when new stores get built. After years without funding, the DABC has authorization to build three more stores. Construction will soon start on a site in Syracuse and land is being looked at in Riverton and Farmington.

Meier said the Syracuse store is slated to open in 2018.