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March 27. 2013 8:56PM

NH House accepts proposal for Salem liquor store

SALEM - If all goes as planned, Salem residents and their neighbors will be able to shop at a much larger, more modern state liquor store on Route 28 within a couple of years.

A proposal to build a $5 million, 20,000-square-foot new NH Liquor & Wine Outlet on the site of the town's current store has been accepted by the House, State Liquor Commission Chairman Joseph Mollica said on Wednesday. The project still needs to head before the Senate and the governor's office for final approval, Mollica noted, but if it goes forward the goal is to have the new Salem store completed by early 2016.

Right now, there are a total of 76 NH Liquor & Wine Outlets statewide.

Mollica said a legislative committee would likely recommend funding for three new stores in the state, with plans also in the works to construct new stores in Hampton on both I-95 North and South.

The new stores would look very much like the retail store on Coliseum Avenue in Nashua.

Another new store, in Chesterfield, is expected to open sometime next month. State officials are hoping to eventually remodel the existing Londonderry store, which is located at 34 Nashua Road, though funding isn't currently set aside for that project.

Mollica said the Salem store at 17 South Broadway, which is housed in a former state police barracks building the Liquor Commission purchased it in the late 1970s, has outgrown its current facilities.

At 10,000 square feet, Salem's current store only has about 5,500 square feet of sales space.

Still, the store is a busy spot since it's located so close to the Massachusetts border, he noted, and those shopping there are now "subject to a very dated shopping experience," Mollica said.

Rebuilding the store would ultimately mean more jobs, a bigger variety of products available and an increase in sales, officials say.

"If all goes as planned, the store will double in size, so obviously we'll need more employees," Mollica said. "Not to mention, we'd see more shoppers coming over the border to shop in New Hampshire."

Last year, the Salem store totaled $22 million in sales, according to the State Liquor Commission's annual report. Statewide, liquor sales totaled over $564 million, resulting in gross revenues of $162 million.

AGuilmet@newstote.com



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