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City shrinks liquor store

Farmington Liquor Store operations director Randy Petrofske straightens the red wine shelves at the Pilot Knob liquor store location Monday.

The Farmington Liquor Store on Pilot Knob Road is smaller than it used to be, but the savings to the city will definitely be bigger in the long run.

If you head to the Pilot Knob liquor store these days, you might notice it's a little smaller - about 2,026 square feet smaller, to be exact - but that doesn't mean there is any less selection.

The city of Farmington recently shrunk its Pilot Knob location with one goal in mind - saving money. The city leases the site, and the lease is up in December.

Since opening the store in 2004, the city has rented two side-by-side units for the Pilot Knob liquor store. When the store opened, the economy was much better and officials were okay with renting one space to display beer and liquor, and another space for a wine cellar.

These days, though, sales have tapered a bit. When Farmington Parks and Recreation director Randy Distad started negotiating a lease renewal, he looked at downsizing the space, simply because the space was too much for what is needed right now.

Distad worked out a lease agreement that closed the wine cellar space. Doing so will save the city about $70,000 annually. The city will also see a decrease in its utility fees for the site.

Liquor store operations manager Randy Petrofske had the opening between the two units sealed off. Liquor store staff brought all of the wine from the wine cellar space over to the existing liquor store space and rearranged the shelves.

"It's comfortable," Petrofske said. "The stock hasn't changed. It's the same prices, the same product. It's just more user friendly."

Of course, the cold beer is still back in the cooler but the stock is now grouped differently. In the past, Petrofske said, the wines were arranged by the locations they came from. Now they've got the wines all grouped by types, so all the reds are together and labeled by type, and all of the whites are together and labeled by type.

"You want pinot grigio? Here it is," he said, as he gestured to a four-shelf section of white wine. "I don't care if it's from Timbuktu, if you're looking for pinot grigio, it's all together right here."

Though the new arrangements will make it easier to find certain products, that's just one of the bonuses to the new store design. With any luck, the new arrangement will also mean an increase to the store's overall bottom line.

Last year, there were 117,687 sales at the Pilot Knob liquor store. That netted just shy of $2.4 million for the city of Farmington. While Farmington City Council members have questioned whether the city should be in the liquor business, Distad is glad the city runs the two municipal liquor stores. Proceeds from the city's two liquor stores are transferred into the general fund to help cover costs in other areas, particularly in parks and recreation. Last year, the Farmington City Council approved $70,000 in transfers from liquor store profits to parks and rec programs.

"That would have to be made up in taxes if we didn't have this option," Distad said.

The Pilot Knob location will have a special grand reopening next week to celebrate the changes in the building. The event will include a ribbon cutting and snacks. Visitors are welcome to attend.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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