SALT LAKE CITY — Think of it as something like a Spirit Halloween store for alcohol.
Utah's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is exploring the idea of "pop up" liquor stores to meet an anticipated surge in demand during the 2023 NBA All-Star Game in Salt Lake City. The agency is looking at leasing empty store spaces to put in temporary liquor stores to provide beer, wine and spirits to bars, restaurants and people who want to imbibe while in town for the games.
"Very similar to like a Spirit Halloween shop where we go into a space about a week before the games, the week of the games, the week after the games, so we can better serve those... visiting our state who want to buy products to take back to their Airbnbs, their hotel or wherever it is they’re staying in a safe, but convenient way," DABC Executive Director Tiffany Clason told FOX 13.
She presented the idea on Tuesday to the DABC commission at its monthly meeting. Governor Spencer Cox has proposed in his budget $200,000 for the idea.
The game could draw as many as 100,000 more people to downtown Salt Lake City, which will put extra demand not just on state-run liquor stores, but also bars and restaurants.
"Our current store infrastructure in that footprint will have a lot of that record volume visitorship," Clason said. "It’s not sufficient to meet the needs of those travelers and tourists."
The pop up stores will help to take some pressure off the existing stores and provide support for downtown's hospitality industry. Clason said they are anticipating two or three of those stores will be needed, with temporary workers to fill them.
"I think this is such a great customer service thing," said Michele Corigliano, the executive director of the Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association, an industry group of bars and restaurants.
Corigliano said downtown businesses are getting excited for the All-Star Game, especially as they dig out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"With the lack of convention business over the COVID year, we are still trying to recoup," she told FOX 13. "And so to have something like the NBA games coming here and having so many extra people, we are thrilled and I think it’s going to bring that great vibrancy we used to have."
She said the pop up stores will also help to end the myth that people can't get a drink in Utah.
Clason said the pop up stores would also help to collect data and inform the DABC how to handle other large-scale events.
"If this ends up being very successful, perhaps it’s something we want to try to deploy for other really big events that we get including potentially a future Olympics," she said.