Wednesday May 16 2012
Liquor Outlet celebreates 30 years in business

Owner Pete Aroz creates space for a Trader Joe’s or similar grocery store
By: Gloria Young, Journal Staff Writer

As he celebrates 30 years in business at the Liquor Outlet, Pete Aroz Sr. is looking toward the future. He recently moved the store to an adjacent spot in the commercial center he owns on Harrison Street in Downtown Auburn. And he’s hoping the newly vacated 20,000-square-foot space will someday be home to a Trader Joe’s, Sprouts, Fresh & Easy or similar grocery store chain. We need a major store in the Downtown area, he said this week. We don’t have a destination store. We have a lot of smaller stores and we do a good business but we don’t have that draw like Trader Joe’s to bring in a lot of people. Aroz and city of Auburn officials presented the idea to Trader Joe’s a couple of years ago. But the company’s response at that time was that economic conditions were curtailing expansion plans, he said. The closest Trader Joe’s to Auburn is in Roseville.

He is making sure the space would be usable very quickly for whatever business decides to locate there. The initial refrigeration, electrical and plumbing is there, Aroz said. The underground is pretty much ready to go. Whoever goes in will remodel it to their needs.. There’s also plenty of parking. Our center has 138 dedicating parking places, Aroz said. That doesn’t include offsite city parking. At the Chocolate Shoppe and Gift Emporium, owner Lois Granstrom said she’s always thought Downtown Auburn needed a grocery store. (It would be nice to have) a place where you can pick up something you need without crossing the freeway, she said. And something to bring more people in  that would be great. I’m all for that. A few doors down the street, Auburn Needleworks owner Lisa Whittet said she’d love to see a Trader Joe’s in town. Bringing it Downtown would be excellent, she said. It will bring more customers to Downtown. When they’re here, they’ll be more apt to shop. I’m all for it. Auburn has been needing it for years.

In fact, Aroz’s first business at Auburn Square on Harrison Street was an independent grocery store he opened 32 years ago at the site of the former Lucky’s Market. A couple of years later, he opened the liquor store and a bar called the Spotlight. In 1996, he purchased the entire complex. Currently, in addition to the Liquor Outlet, he owns a second business there . Pistol Pete’s Brew & Cue. The center also has a post office, two restaurants, a hair salon, pottery studio, reptile store and the Daily Shake.

The Liquor Outlet’s new location has about the same square footage as before, but the configuration is a little different. Retail is more concentrated and there’s a larger party goods section, Aroz said. We bought fixtures and party merchandise from a local company that went out of business last year. Party rentals include chairs, tables and tableware. Aroz has a liquor catering license and operates bars at numerous area events, among them Cruise Nites, this weekend’s Auburn Home Show and several Ducks Unlimited parties throughout the year. We one of the major sponsors for Cruise Nite, he said. He gets a lot of family help. Son Pete Jr. runs Pistol Pete’s. Son Troy and daughter Tomi work in the Liquor Outlet and assist with party rentals and catering. Now the third generation is helping out, too. A grandson who is going to Cal Poly is working part-time with us, Aroz said. A granddaughter in high school is starting to work part-time. That will be available to them. All of my kids are college graduates. I’m a college graduate. I encourage my kids to continue their education and do the best they can. Hopefully, we have a place for them. But, for that, we have to continue to prosper and build up our business. As a member of the Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Business Association, he feels strongly about the need for strengthening business in Auburn. That includes making the most of big events. (The Auburn Home Show) gets from 15,000 to 20,000 people. (We need to) figure out a way to get those people who leave the home show to visit restaurants and shops in Old Town and Downtown, he said. Anything we can do to draw people to Auburn, it will benefit the business community.

Liquor Outlet officially reaches the 30-year milestone in August and Aroz said he may plan some sort of celebration to be held closer to that time. We’ve been real fortunate. It’s a beautiful community, he said. My family and I have made so many friends because of our business and we have a very supportive clientele. But we also need new business and new customers.