WRIGHT TOWNSHIP — Mark May 14 on your calendar and raise a glass and celebrate.
In less than two weeks, residents of Mountain Top will be able to buy their wine and spirits without leaving the mountain.
Residents of the Mountain Top region have been without a wine and spirits shop since April 9, 2011 when the state closed the only store serving the 69-square-mile region that includes the townships of Rice, Wright, Fairview and Dennison.
“We Mountain Toppers came to believe it would take Governor Corbett to sell off the wine and spirits stores before we would get another one in our town,” said resident Mary Ellen Knecht, who welcomed the news.
When Weis Markets expanded its Mountain Top store in 2011, it ended its lease with the state for a 2,300-square-foot Wine and SpiritsShop that operated in the Weis Plaza. In its space went the grocer’s dairy department. Since the time its doors closed, the Liquor Control Board has promised residents that a new shop would open but real estate and lease negotiations dragged on well past the original goal of a spring 2012 opening.
Weis, the Sunbury-based grocer that owns the entire 67,165-square-foot plaza where the supermarket is located, continued negotiating with the state for another location in the plaza. The new space in the former Movie Gallery location is larger than the old one, still in the same shopping center and will offer hundreds of additional wine and spirit selections including the “Chairman Selection” that only certain stores feature.
Like the old store, however, LCB spokeswoman Stacy Kriedeman said there will not be any Sunday hours. Instead the store will be open Monday and Tuesday from 11 to 7, and Wednesday through Saturday from 9 to 9.
“We’re looking forward to the grand opening. We think people will be very pleased with the look and feel of the new store,” Kriedeman said. She said a ribbon cutting ceremony and some comments from an LCB official and store staff will be part of the festivities that kick off at 11 a.m. Three of the four workers that were employed at the Mountain Top store when it closed will return. The store will employ four people when it reopens.
According to Kriedeman, the state signed a five-year lease with Weis that includes an additional five year option.
The annual rate of the lease for the first five years is $71,126.40. If the sides renew for the second five year term, the annual rate jumps up to $81,833.64. The new space is 3,800 square feet, compared to 2,400 square foot at its former location. The sales floor is also much larger with 2,723 square feet compared to 1,558 square feet of sales floor space in the old store.
Since the closing, people who live in the Mountain Top area have had to travel to Wilkes-Barre Township, Hazleton, White Haven or Nanticoke to purchase wine or spirits.
Weis spokesman Dennis Curtin said the outcome is a win-win situation.
“It’s good to have them in our center, since it reinforces the convenience of our location. Customers frequently base their shopping decisions on the convenience of a location. It will be good for both our businesses,” Curtin said.