Helper will get a liquor store, but where?
Helper will have a liquor store again. The question now is where it will be.
On Tuesday, the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission approved the request of the city's mayor and council to replace the package store that has been closed since February.
However, in the Help Wanted section of today's classified ads, there is an item placed by the DABC that indicates the store does not necessarily have to reopen in its previous Main Street location.
The DABC is accepting applications for a contract agent to run a package liquor agency in Helper. It states that this could be either a Type 3 outlet, like the previous one, or a Type 2, like Miners Trading Post in East Carbon/Sunnyside.
There is a grocery store in Helper that would like the Type 2 contract. That is Workmen's Market, run by Steve Giacoletto and his son Brandon.
The other grocery in Helper, R&A Market, "has no interest whatsoever in having a liquor outlet in my store," stated proprietor Dean Armstrong.
As mayor of Helper, Armstrong supports the city council's position that the liquor store should remain on downtown Main Street. It suits the city's development plan and would keep the lights lit on Main Street, he explained.
In presentations to the commission in April and again on Tuesday, Armstrong and Councilman Robert Bradley stated that having the store reopen would be an anchor for the city's tourism potential.
As a conduit for some 20,000 vehicles per day, US 6 brings potential tourists through town, but not to town. What drivers need is some incentive to leave the highway and spend some time in Helper, city officials have said.
The liquor store, while not a major tourist draw in itself, would be an amenity that is expected by tourists.
The Giacolettos' interest in the Type 2 license was no surprise. Steve Giacoletto had spoken in off-the-agenda remarks at the May 3 city council meeting to explain his reasoning.
He said he expected to provide the service more economically because he is already paying wages, workers' comp and utilities at the grocery store.
"All [the state] has to do is supply the hootch," he joked.
The Giacolettos spoke to the commission after Armstrong and Bradley had departed. Steve Giacoletto told the Sun Advocate Wednesday that they were simply representing the interests of their store.
"We did not stab Dean," he declared. "He was there representing Helper City. He was not representing R&A. We were there representing Workmen's."
In addition to more economical operation, Giacoletto thinks that the ability to offer groceries as well as liquor would be better for tourists and local shoppers.