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Liquor store owners say Washington County market is saturated

Many at hearing oppose opening new store in Stone House Square

Many at hearing oppose opening new store in Stone House Square

February 07, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - About 20 people were on hand Wednesday when Washington County's liquor board met to oppose a couple's request to open a liquor store in the Stone House Square shopping center on Md. 60.

Many of those who attended the hearing were Hagerstown liquor store owners, who told the Board of License Commissioners for Washington County, known as the liquor board, that allowing another liquor store would saturate the market and might create a price war among existing businesses.

Michael Folk, co-owner of Long Meadow Liquors at 1509 Potomac Ave., said his store and Bacchus Liquors, at 906 Antietam Drive, are within a half-mile of the proposed store.

He presented to the liquor board a petition that he said included about 200 signatures of people who opposed the proposal.

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"(Customers) are well taken care of," he said. "We're fulfilling that need pretty well."

Frederick County, Md., resident Hiren Shingala and his wife, Shaila, told the liquor board they want to open a 3,700-square-foot liquor store that would specialize in selling upscale wines. The store would feature a climate-controlled wine cellar, Shaila Shingala said.

"We are not here to take your livelihood," she told the audience. "We are here to make everybody happy."

She said competition among the liquor stores would be healthy for business.

Robert L. Everhart, liquor board chairman, said the Washington County Restaurant & Beverage Association wrote to offer the opinion that the neighborhood didn't need another liquor store.

In Washington County, one liquor store is permitted per every 1,000 registered voters in each voting district. The proposed liquor store would be in District 18, where nine liquor stores are sanctioned, but only six are operating, said Robert Shoemaker, a Washington County liquor inspector.

Everhart said the board would decide within 30 days.

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