Long lines, huge sales at Utah liquor stores

TAYLORSVILLE -- Lines stretched outside state-run liquor stores as people swarmed them to stock up on last-minute booze for Thanksgiving.

"From the time we open until the time we close, it's lines out the door," said Brian Cogburn, an employee at the Cottonwood Heights liquor store. "It's been nuts!"

All over the state, people reported long lines at checkout counters and just to get in the stores. Police were limiting entry into them because of the crowds, citing safety reasons.

"There's a safety factor because some of them are smaller stores," said Terry Wood, a spokesman for the Utah Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control. "We also don't want them lined up down the aisles while people are still trying to shop."

People wait in line outside a West Valley City liquor store. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

People wait in line outside a West Valley City liquor store. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

Some customers said they went from store to store, looking for the shortest line.

"It's a lot better here than the one on 21st and 21st right now. I drove by that one. Notice, I said I drove by it?" Brett Bannon chuckled as he walked out of the Cottonwood Heights store carrying a box of bottles.

Once inside, clerks hurried to ring people up and keep the lines as short as possible. Executives at the DABC were even drafted to help bag and box bottles and stock shelves inside stores.

Crowds inside the Cottonwood Heights liquor store. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

Crowds inside the Cottonwood Heights liquor store. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

"Some stores are short-handed so we get out here and we all do our bit," Wood said. "It also gets us off our tails and out of the office."

The day before Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest day of the year for the DABC. Each year, Utah's liquor control authority reports record-breaking sales at its 44 stores. Last year, the DABC reported $3.2 million in sales the day before Thanksgiving. This year was looking to be no different, with the agency projecting sales of $3.3 million on Nov. 23. By comparison, a typical Wednesday at Utah State Liquor outlets generates about $930,000 in sales.

Many customers FOX 13 spoke with took it all in stride.

"It was a crazy year," said Janice Sherrill. "Everybody deserves a drink!"