Report Says State Didn’t Lose Money Closing Main Street Liquor Store

(KCPW News) A report introduced to state lawmakers Tuesday shows closing the Main Street liquor store in Salt Lake City did not cost the state money. Fiscal analysts told the Executive Appropriations Committee consumers have transferred their shopping to the Sugar House and Avenues liquor stores. Senate President Michael Waddoups says this goes against projections that the state was going to lose $100,000 to $130,000 annually by closing the Main Street store. In fact, he says it increased revenue by $47,000 from April through June. Waddoups says it doesn’t necessarily mean the state will consider closing more liquor stores, but it was obviously a good business decision.

“Some of the reports we’ve heard, though, is actually that they’re enjoying going to that Avenues store, that they didn’t know what a jewel that was. We’re finding that the one that’s the closest, the west side store, they’re not going to very much. So that’s a business information tidbit that I think also shows us that how we site our stores and the ambiance around them, maybe is an issue that we need to look at from a business decision also.”

But Democratic Senator Ben McAdams says the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control report showed about 75 percent of the revenue shifted to other stores, while 25 percent was lost. The numbers from the fiscal analysts show only a 15 percent loss, which is less than the cost of operating the store. But McAdams says he’s still not convinced it was a good idea.

“Let’s say that the legislative fiscal analyst numbers are correct. I would still argue that the state owes a duty of convenience to the consumers of the product and we have ran a monopoly, and if we don’t want to run a monopoly in a responsible fashion, than maybe we should get out of the monopoly and let the private sector do it,” said McAdams.

McAdams says he’d like to know why the DABC numbers are different from the fiscal analysts’. The state closed the Main Street liquor store in March.