SIDNEY- It's been a year, and Hometown Liquor at 1500 Illinois Street in Sidney has already become a staple of the community. The former site of Two J's Liquors has been transformed into an attractive and fresh space, and has quickly become a success story representing the Sidney business community.
One of the owners of Hometown Liquor, Paul Strommen, is the current Vice-Mayor of Sidney and City Council member. He is a first-time liquor store owner, and was able to identify a need in the city and transform an existing space, that had sat empty for nearly a year, into a fresh and attractive new business for the community. The City of Sidney made the process relatively easy for the owners, as the location was already zoned for a retail business, and, although the liquor license was expired, there wasn't much difficulty in obtaining a new one and opening up the business.
"We really looked at the building as a perfect candidate for a remodel, and to reinvigorate the surrounding area where it is located," said Strommen. "We believed there was a need we could fill, and we're currently the city's only stand-alone liquor store. We offer a great selection of products and we're generating sales tax revenue for the city, which is a great thing."
Hometown Liquor is community-focused and has given back to the community. They implemented a "Round Up" program where customers can round up their purchase price to the nearest dollar, and donate the change to local organizations. The program has been a great success, with each month having a different benefactor. The store raised $1212 for CASA, $1586 for the Cool Kids Club, $1860 for the Sidney Public Library, and over $1500 each for the Sidney, Leyton and Potter-Dix Booster Clubs.
There were a few bumps in the road when the store first opened, but Strommen and his staff were able to manage the challenges and move forward. "We had a little difficulty adjusting the cooler temperatures at first, and then we had a condenser on the roof fail, but since then its been pretty smooth sailing." Strommen and his team benefited from the expert advice from vendors to help determine the proper product mix and inventory levels for a store in this area.
"Once up and running, our biggest focus, and what we believe sets us apart from other stores, is service," said Strommen. "We have a fantastic staff here, and the feedback we've received has been very positive," he added.
The store's general manager is Natalie Lucero, and she's always willing to help customers make selections and order hard-to-find products. She said, "providing great customer service is very important to me, as it sets the tone for the experience in the store. It makes the customer feel special and important, and we challenge ourselves to remember everyone's name. We love doing that because it makes the customers happy and keeps them coming back."
With a year under their belts and a growing customer base, Hometown Liquor is definitely a success story here in Sidney. Not only is it thriving business that serves its customers, but the people involved are focused on helping the community, and being a destination for local shoppers.