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January 13, 2009 - Meg Alexander
The Sentinel's online poll for this week asks readers if Fairmont should build a new liquor store. So far, the majority are voting no. In part, I agree with them, but I do have trouble with the simplicity of the question. It doesn't allow for any background information. Personally, I'm divided. I agree that the city needs a new liquor store. A trip to the store last Friday after work reinforced this opinion. First, the beer I wanted isn't sold there. There's no guarantee that a larger store would keep it in stock, but the city does want more shelf and storage place to improve its selection and increase its inventory — saving money by buying in bulk. Second, I was kind of creeped out. The employees were great — friendly and helpful as always. (None of them have ever laughed at me for looking young, or struggling to reach the beer on the top shelf due to my height.) It was the setting that had me on guard, a dark parking lot crowded with vehicles, many of which had a male sitting inside waiting ... for liquor! Ahhhh!!! I'm embarrassed of my paranoid observation that not all the customers that evening appeared to be model citizens. My new stereotype of anyone who goes to a liquor store — which includes myself and my husband — may not be reasonable, but I still will hesitate to go back by myself at night. However, I'm not gung-ho yet about building new. The cost isn't so much a factor. The store will pay for itself with its sales revenue — the city has to prove to the state it can afford the project without using money from other coffers. I'm just not crazy about the sites the city is eyeing on the north end of town along Highway 15. A central location seems more ideal than having to drive all the way across town — yes, I'm a small-town hick and yes, Wal-Mart sometimes seems too far away. Ideally, an older building would have adequate floor, storage and parking space — reduce and reuse! — but I've been told none fit the bill.
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