Local liquor store has none

State regulations hinder business

Owner PJ Malhi stands near his "liquor-less" liquor store. It has beer & wine, but no distilled spirits.

EAST WENATCHEE - 1610 Grant Road is the new home to the former Liquor Barn that was located on Valley Mall Parkway for many years next to a pizza joint and the UPS Store.
Why the move?
Owner P.J. Malhi said the old landlord was increasing the rent and he wanted a new, fresh start while breaking up with a former business partner.
The new store features a huge ice cold walk-in beer cooler with a hundred selections of everyday national domestic brands and craft brews from around the state and the world.
Poor PJ also sells snacks, cigars, distilled spirits ("hard" liquor) and wines galore.
There is only one problem as seen in the photo above: no liquor. Malhi blames it squarely on the Liquor & Cannabis Control Board and the red tape folks found in Olympia.
He owned the original liquor, beer and wine license, but when he moved and changed names the fur started to fly. Turns out the rule for moving is that it must be within one mile of the original location. Malhi said he measured the distance via Google Map and it turned out to be one mile and about 200 yards.
He said he has spoken to State Representative Cary Condotta and State Senator Brad Hawkins about the matter and assured them the entire neighborhood he has moved into wants him to stay and appreciates the convenience of having a wine, beer and liquor store nearby so they don't have to drive "into town."
"Town" in this case is anywhere else in East Wenatchee or Wenatchee where shoppers are surrounded by much heavier traffic.
Malhi also said he has emailed Congressmen Dan Newhouse and Dave Reichert about the situation and awaits their reply.
"They (the neighbors) like the convenience and the cleanliness of the store and the customer service I give them and the beer and wine selection. If I have to get a petition from the neighbors then I will, but I don't think that should be necessary," Malhi said, with a frustrated sigh.
Malhi went so far as to label all the shelves with the prices of the liquor that will eventually inhabit their rightful spots, but alas, they still they remain empty.
Many customers come in and leave disappointed that they can't get their favorite whiskey, brandy, vodka, tequila or many other types of distilled spirits.
Malhi said he has no choice. but to wait for the bureaucrats to give him the license or perhaps make him re-apply.
In the mean time he states that he is barely keeping his head above water. He lost and is losing many thousands of dollars, especially since he couldn't accommodate customers for the holiday season, traditionally the highest grossing part of the year for most retailers.
Malhi is his only employee, but wants to hire at least one or more part time clerks so he can take a break once in a while. He credits toe low rent as being a big help towards his bottom line.
The L&CCB cannot comment on open applications.
For more information call Malhi at 509-881-2500.

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