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Select state liquor stores to stay open longer

| Monday, Aug. 26, 2013, 10:39 a.m.

Shoppers looking to pick up some wine for dinner or a bottle of spirits for dessert will have a few extra hours to make it to the state store after work or on the weekend.

Buoyed by record sales last year, the state Liquor Control Board said on Monday that 102 wine and spirits stores statewide will stay open longer in an effort to meet consumer demand. The stores with new hours will either open up to two hours earlier or close up to two hours later.

The LCB runs more than 600 liquor stores statewide and regularly analyzes store operations — location, staffing levels and hours — to make sure stores are serving consumers while maximizing revenue for the state, officials said.

“We constantly look at operation hours throughout the year. Not a month goes by we aren't adjusting (an hour) here or there,” said Dale Horst, director of retail operations for the LCB.

Horst said he and store managers in the field looked at customer traffic patterns and the hours of other retail stores in shopping plazas with state stores.

“I'm always a firm believer in reinvesting back into the stores,” Horst said. “(The managers) said, ‘We think we can do it and it's not going to cost us much more.'”

He said the agency believes it can change workers' shifts and spread out their hours to cover the additional time with minimal cost.

Many stores with new hours will stay open later, until 10 p.m., but some will open earlier on the days they previously did not open until 11 a.m. The store in Central City Plaza in New Kensington and the shop on Leechburg Road in Lower Burrell, for example, will now open at 9 a.m. Monday through Saturday.

The LCB cannot change store hours on Sundays, said spokeswoman Stacy Kriedeman. By law, only 25 percent of state stores can open on Sundays and the hours must be noon to 5 p.m., she said.

Horst said the changes are permanent but that agency officials will look at this block of stores sometime early in the new year, after the holiday shopping season, to evaluate if the moves were successful.

“If down the road store expenses go up and we didn't see any increase in sales, that would have to be re-evaluted,” Horst said.

Kari Andren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2856 or kandren@tribweb.com.

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