Thursday, January 22, 2009

Liquor License Changes in Woodstock

Once Tuesday night's City Council meeting quieted down, one topic on the agenda was discussed almost ad nauseum.

The owner of Armanetti's Liquors and the Country Cupboard would like to buy the Shop n Save (Miska's Liquors) on the corner of Route 47 and McConnell Road. This is the place that slid by the Liquor Commission and the City Council by announcing its plans to be a convenience store, not a liquor store. Ha!

As early as about last March, Councilman Webster asked at a City Council meeting about the ratio of revenues at that store, and Mayor Sager stated, as I recall, that its alcoholic beverage sales were less than 50% of total revenues. The next day I visited Miska's and estimated that 90-95% of its sales were likely to be alcohol-related.

In June I asked Ralph if any more information had surfaced (like, did the Liquor Commission request financial statements from Miska's Liquors?), and he replied that he'd check on it.

Later in the year I sent an email to the City, requesting that it be forwarded to the Liquor Commission, which is headed up by the Mayor, asking if Miska's is a liquor store or a convenience store (or some wording like that). No reply was ever received.

At Tuesday's City Council meeting, Councilman Ahrens (I think it was he who did) explained that the Liquor Commission and the City had never imposed any restriction on Shop n Save (Miska's) when the liquor license was issued; thus, its high volume of liquor sales were not outside the scope of its liquor license. Although Shop n Save had "said" they would be a convenience store (not a liquor store), it didn't turn out that way.

Quite a bit of time was used up Tuesday night with two members of the City Council who expressed deep concerns about Mr. Patel's plan to buy Shop n Save/Miska's Liquors, "because then there would be two liquor stores within blocks of one another."

Hello? Right now there are already two liquor stores within blocks of one another! Too much time was spent worrying about competition. There is plenty of competition for the consumer's liquor purchases. Who worries about a little store down the street?

Mr. Patel has an strong and positive business reputation in Woodstock. He was praised several times for the way he conducts his businesses in Woodstock.

After a lot of back and forth and at least two council members saying that they didn't feel they could be in favor of allowing Mr. Patel to approach the Liquor Commission, the City Council then voted on the Motion. The vote? 7-0.

Why is it that many times there is vigorous dissent during the discussion phase of a Motion but, when it comes time to vote, the votes are almost always 7-0?

All the Council really needed to do was approve the Motion and pass the buck to the Liquor Commission. They would get a second crack at it, anyway, when any recommendation from the Liquor Commission showed up on a future City Council agenda!

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