Chino 99 Cent Store Applies For Alcohol License

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By Michael Armijo

Chino – Those of you who have visited the “Smart and Final” shopping center on Central Avenue and Philadelphia may have noticed a new sign in the window of the “99 Cents Store”: “Application to Sell Alcoholic Beverages”.

It’s a growing trend around the state, and nearby states, as Tempe Arizona approved a liquor license. But not so fast here in southern California, as the Chula Vista 99 Cent store’s application was rejected. Two more licenses were sought after, one rejected and one granted. The Lake Forest 99 Cent store may sell beer and wine only, but not at the Foothill Ranch store on Towne Centre Drive, a city commission has decided.

Requests made by the stores in January for waivers that would allow them to sell alcoholic beverages to customers were denied in this month by Development Services Director Gayle Ackerman. Such waivers are an option for businesses in tracts deemed “saturated” by the ABC, which makes such determinations based on population.

99 Cent Only store in Chula Vista  was rejected by the community and subsequently the Chula Vista Police Department.

Applications to the Department of the Alcoholic Beverage Control for certain alcohol licenses in census tracts with an oversaturation of licenses or high crime rates (over 120 percent), require an investigation by law enforcement to determine if the business would be a necessity or convenience to the community.

Chula Vista police Det. Jesse Vicente, who oversees these types of licenses, said Friday his team rejected the request to sell alcohol at the Third Avenue and Moss Street location because it didn’t meet criteria to be deemed necessary or convenient to the public.

“We want to be a convenient store,” said Manuel Becerra, district manager for 99 Cents Only according to the San Diego Tribune. “You come to the store and you find everything you need.”

Wine is sold at a discount, but more than a dollar, at 99 Cents Only stores because they buy in bulk, a 99 Cent spokesperson said. The chain has been expanding beer and wine sales across the country.

The 99 Cents Only stores began selling beer and wine in 1983, shortly after the first store opened, spokeswoman Sarah Correa said. While one Mesa store obtained a liquor license in 2000 and another surrendered its license about a decade ago, the rest of the approximately 20 stores that applied for licenses did so this year, according to Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control data.

Dollar stores may have a challenge that other retailers that sell alcohol do not because they often are neighborhood stores, he said. Some communities have resisted the addition of alcohol to dollar-store shelves, according to news reports.

“The application to sell beer and wine is in progress, but not yet approved,” said Martha, a Chino 99 Cent Store employee. “But the one in Pomona currently sells alcohol, you can go there to purchase,” she added. For more information, or to provide input, contact the Riverside ABC District Office at 951.782.4400, or write to them at 3737 Main Street Suite 900, Riverside CA 92501.

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