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South Kingstown Town Council Votes Down Liquor Store Hopeful

The Town Council ruled to retain the four-license cap on liquor stores in the town and nixed - at least for now - a proposal for an additional spirit store in South County Commons.

The Town Council quelled hopes for a liquor store in South County Commons on Monday night, voting to limit the number of licenses to South Kingstown's four existing liquor stores.

After released last month confirmed that South Kingstown’s population peaked to 30,000 residents, per state mandate the town is now eligible to host up to five liquor stores. State law limits a town’s ability to license beer, wine and liquor stores to one per every 6,000 residents.

After news broke an East Greenwich woman, Susan Pagliarini, jumped at the opportunity to harness the “destination shopping” business appeal at the South County Commons with a proposal for a 1,742-square-foot "vintage" wine and spirits vending location, according to the woman’s attorney and husband, John Pagliarini.

Pagliarini attempted to persuade council members to approve issuance of an additional license that would not only service a growing population, but also attract outsiders and provide locals with more convenience.

Each of the town’s four stores exists within about about a half-mile radius of each other, Pagliarini told the council:  Patsy’s Package Store on High Street, Geaber’s Liquors on Old Tower Hill Road, Wakefield Liquors on Kingstown Road and Sweeney’s Wine and Spirits located on Main Street.

Citing a depressed economy and no quantifiable need to approve licensing a fifth business to serve beer, wine and liquor, the council unanimously voted to keep the number at four.

“My concern is that I just don’t think that the overall [liquor sales] business has been increased,” said James O’Neill, councilman. “If we had seen huge numbers of growth in the liquor industry, [then] maybe. I wish the commons, in that space, would search for a sensational business, and I think [a new liquor store] would be cannibalizing other liquor stores in town.”

While Pagliarini argued his wife’s proposed business would draw upon the South County Commons regional consumer base, the council was not swayed – the new store is proposed at just 1.1 miles away from Old Tower Hill Road and Geaber’s Liquors.

“It’s very difficult when we have s to sit up here and decided something like this because it really isn’t our job keep competition away from other businesses,” said Council Vice President Carol Hagen McEntee. “I think South County Commons, in my view, was originally supposed to be like a garden city or a mini Newport, a small shopping center that would bring people in with clothing shops, movies – I didn’t envision a liquor store.”

Although the matter is tabled for the time being, council President Ella Whaley assured Pagliarini it could be revisited for approval at a later date.

Other Business

The Town Council accepted the town’s final budget for fiscal year 2012 in the amount of $89.77 million, which will represent a $621,000 tax levy or 0.95 percent increase over the current year. The Council also authorized the appropriate fund transfers to each of the town’s eight operating funds, with O’Neill voting against.

Town Manager Stephen Alfred said taxpayers would still have the opportunity to petition any portion of the budget funding until June 7 through a signed petition with at least 199 signatures.

Laura Winward June 07, 2011 at 12:59 PM
Gary-being a business owner in town, I can tell you that its not a matter of the town becoming "yupified", its the cost of doing business. Independent business owners don't have the luxury that huge box stores do to negotiate rock bottom prices because we aren't buying 50,000 units of something. Ask any independent store owner and I will bet that they will tell you they are by no means getting rich, and probably didn't collect a paycheck from their own business for a long while after opening. I don't think that the general public appreciates the expense of running an independent business-especially a retail business (vs food or service). The costs are astronomical and the profit margins are pretty low if you try to stay competitive, and unfortunately some of that has to be passed on as higher prices. Its the little things that add up to independent businesses. Credit card fees, bags, a box to put that pair of earrings in, outrageous advertising costs just to remind people that we are around, payroll, lights, maintenance, licensing, signs, hangers, etc....every one of those things comes out of our pockets and our profits. I don't think any of the businesses in town are trying to gouge their customers, we are just trying to keep our doors open in a dying economy.
Kathy DiPina June 07, 2011 at 03:40 PM
Laura, I could be mistaken but didn't you wish Patti Cakes well? They came here from Florida and nobody is bashing them. This poor woman is from EG and all of a sudden ppl are "Not in my town, we don't need another business." Why? Because it's a liquor store? You make some very good points and I've been trying to be conscious of not using credit b/c of the fees or refusing bags. If I buy 6 oranges at the market I don't use the little plastic bag. They're going into a bigger bag anyway. The consumer has to help out as well. You forgot to mention one other things that businesses do and that's donate. How many times have you been asked to sponsor a team or donate a gift basket for a silent auction? We all want to be loyal to the small businesses but other than liquor stores you can get pretty much everything at Marshalls/HomeGoods. We have to be loyal to our pocket books, too. All that being said, that woman has every right to open her store in the Commons.
Laura Winward June 07, 2011 at 04:26 PM
Hi Kathy, I did wish Patti Cakes well,and I'm trying to stay out of the Liquor store arguement, although I feel residency shouldn't be an issue when it comes to being allowed to open a business. I was mostly making my point to the comments made by Gary which to me seemed a bit of a dig to all small businesses in Wakefield, as if we think we are elitists, or that we overcharge our customers to project an image. I just want people to understand what our true costs are, and what we compete against. Thank you for the mention of how often the local merchants are called upon to donate to every cause, sometimes by people/organizations that are from out of town, or have never once stepped foot into our establishments until the day they came asking. Every one of those donations come out of our bottom lines, and yet I think the merchants of Wakefield are some of the most generous individuals I have ever met. How many donations have they gotten from Walmart, or Marshalls, or Target? Your points are well taken, and there are times that all of us have to do what is fiscally reponsible for our families and our budgets. I just want Gary and others to understand that the reason he can't find everything he needs in town at a reasonable price is exactly because of places like Walmart and Marshalls and that cheap, disposable imports from foreign countries with minimal labor rights, though convenient and econmical, are also the death of the mom and pop stores all over the country.
Dave100AP June 11, 2011 at 01:03 PM
I don't view SK as an "elite executive community" - far from it. SK's heritage is a farming community, with desirable open spaces, beachs, and a University. I want to see this heritage continue. I think there's quite a difference between not wanting pawn shops (many of which are used to front stolen goods) , and more tattoo shops and liquor stores. I'm not "looking down" on the people that own these businesses and work in them - I feel that those businesses are better suited to larger urban areas. I want to preserve the quality of life and character of SK which is exactly what attracted many of us to live in this community. I've worked hard to get to a point in life where I can choose where I want to live and I want SK to remain a place that is appealing. You're trying to paint me as some sort of elitist - I don't think it's elitist to set the bar higher than liquor stores, pawn shops, and tattoo parlors. Sure, those are legal businesses that pay taxes, etc., but if you could be honest about it, you'd agree that they don't provide the same type of employment opportunities and customer base as places like Brewed Awakenings or The Right Click do. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'd bet that most people would also rather see more of these types of businesses open.
Dave100AP June 11, 2011 at 01:14 PM
Laura, you hit the nail on the head! Your assessment of Walmart is exactly right - we're destroying ourselves in our lust for the cheapest goods possible, consequences be damned. I won't shop at Walmart because I don't want to wear a shirt that was made using child-labor in some sweatshop in Thailand, Pakistan, or wherever. As for the attitude expressed by Gary about "Yuppies"; that is the weakest type of dig there is. No one who worked to get where they are should ever allow someone to try to use that accomplishment as some sort of insult. It's ridiculous. To those who feel that "Yuppie" is some sort of a bad thing, maybe if you'd put yourselve's through school (I did - a cheap, little college that has no status) and worked your tail off, you wouldn't feel resentment towards those who did.

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