Park City toasts Utah alcohol regulators as Old Town liquor store reopens
The location, important to the tourism industry, had been closed since January
Park City on Monday toasted the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control as it reopened the Swede Alley liquor store after a closure that stretched through some of the important weeks of the ski season.
The liquor store reopened at noon. The department closed the store on Jan. 18 amid struggles to staff the location. The closure included some of the busiest weeks of the ski season, including Presidents Day weekend and the spring-break periods through the middle of March.
Staffers scurried about on Monday morning in the hours before the reopening. The shelves appeared to be largely stocked, and the workers were cleaning the floors and making the final preparations.
The director of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, Tiffany Clason, traveled to Park City on Monday, saying the department sought to end the temporary closure quickly.
“We wanted to, as quickly as possible, get this store reopened,” Clason said, calling the location a “valuable presence” for the community that illustrates Park City is a vibrant and fun place.
Clason in an interview said the department has “no plans to permanently close the Swede Alley store.”
There was limited worry at the outset of the temporary closure that the department could opt not to reopen the location. The Swede Alley liquor store, a block off of Main Street, is seen as having outsized importance to the Park City tourism industry, offering a convenient location for people to buy alcohol steps from the shopping, dining and entertainment of Main Street.
The department consistently said the store would reopen since the start of the temporary closure. Some wondered about the long-term future of the location, though, as the closure was extended from what was initially forecast to be just several weeks.
“The community loves having this store here,” Clason said on Monday as she described the location as an asset to Main Street.
The Main Street location generated slightly more than $2 million in sales during the 12 months between January of 2020 and January of 2021. The total by wide margins trails the slightly more than $19 million during the same period at the Snow Creek liquor store and the slightly more than $15 million during that timeframe at the Kimball Junction store, according to the department. But the location, significantly smaller than the others, is seen as important nonetheless being so close to Main Street.
The temporary closure was the result of staffing shortages. The department during the closure shifted staffers from the Swede Alley location to the store at Snow Creek, responding to customer demand at the larger store outside of Old Town.
The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, like many private-sector businesses in Park City, had difficulty with the hirings at a starting wage of $13.50 per hour. The starting wage is slightly higher in Park City and Moab than elsewhere in the state based on the cost of living in the two resort communities. Someone earning even the bumped-up department wages in Park City would struggle with expenses in the resort-driven housing market.
The reopening occurred toward the end of the winter, with just several more weeks left of the ski seasons at Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort.
The president and CEO of the Park City Chamber/Bureau, Jennifer Wesselhoff, appeared at the liquor store on Monday as staffers prepared for the reopening. She talked about a strong partnership between the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and the Park City business community and highlighted the location’s role in the community. She said it is “so important to the brand.”
In a prepared statement, Wesselhoff said the store “is expected to be popular with visitors who are in Park City for the upcoming Easter holidays and the remaining weeks of the ski season.”
“This location is one that serves residents of the Historic Downtown, employees of the shops on Main Street and, of course, visitors to the area,” she said, using an acronym for the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. “So many groups are truly grateful for the commitment from the state and DABC to get this location back open as soon as possible.”
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