For the sixth time in a row owners of a package liquor store in George Town have been denied an extension to their current opening hours by the Liquor Licensing Board of Grand Cayman.
Having been refused five times in a row brothers Prentice and Stanley Panton of Liquor 4 Less, 7 Shedden Road said they were this time begging the board to extend their hours.
On previous occasions the request was to extend hours until 10pm Monday through Saturday.
The brothers returned to the board’s quarterly session at Grand Pavilion Thursday morning and requested to open on their busiest days, Friday and Saturdays, for one hour extra, until 8pm.
Presiding at the meeting was Chairman of the Board Mitchell Welds, Deputy Chairperson Lynn Bodden-Smatt, Board members Bernice Richards, Ruth Williams and Craig Nixon, Secretary Marva Scott-Dunbar, Liquor Inspector Donald Green and Chief Inspector George Watson.
While addressing the board Mr. Stanley said that he also meant to include in the formal application to the board, a wish to open from 9am, rather than the current permitted time of 10am. He had forgotten to do this, and would reapply for this if necessary.
Mr. Prentice said that since the only liquor stores with extended hours are in the outer districts, the George Town area deserves to have extended hours to cater for its residents.
‘I feel we’re begging for something we should be entitled to,’ he said.
He also said that they employ two security guards at Liquor 4 Less, something, he says, that other liquor stores haven’t done.
Mr. Stanley said their store has probably tripled in size since it opened in 2004 and this is because of the popularity it has experienced.
He said the store offers the best price points in the market, and he feels they should be saluted for that.
Between 8am and 10am in the morning, before the store opens, there are at least 10 to 20 customers pulling the door to get in, said Mr. Stanley.
He said that it is wrong for anyone to suggest that there is not a need for extra hours of opening in the evenings. From 7pm to 8pm at night when they are cleaning up after closing many more people try to come in, he said. He asked for at least a compromise, to be permitted to open until 8pm Friday and Saturdays.
Every day customers are asking them to open earlier and close later. He said he wanted it to be known that he was begging for this for his customers. ‘They tell me on a daily basis that I must keep fighting for this,’ he said.
An objection against Messrs Panton’s application to open until 8pm was filed by Mr. Troy Whittaker of Eastern Avenue Liquors. This is the only occasion they have ever had an objection against the application for longer opening hours, the brothers said.
Referring to Mr. Whittaker’s own application before the board to change the location of a package liquor license to the former Mahogany’s Building, Shedden Road from Nixon Plaza, Eastern Avenue, Mr. Prentice said if this is granted it would be unfair competition. This is because it would allow their customers to leave the Liquor 4 Less premises and walk only 200 feet away into his up until 10pm, he said.
Mr. Stanley pointed out that Mr. Whittaker had moved a package liquor licence from Bodden Town to George Town (with permitted opening hours until 10pm), which he was now trying to use to his competitive advantage.
Commenting on this point board member Ruth Williams said it was an oversight of the board at that time when the licence was varied with a stipulation to continue opening hours to 10pm in George Town.
Mr. Stanley said, ‘My point still remains – a licence has come from another district into town. It adds more fuel to the fire.’
He said he knows many bars that sell six-packs for take-away all day and every day from 9am to 1pm. ‘So to restrict us, who can sell it at half or a third of the price, seems unfair,’ he said.
He commented that he himself has no problem with competition, because he is about driving down prices and competition can do that.
He also said he had never received any objections from any of the bars in the area to his request to open to 10pm. In fact, he said, other bars in the area supported this.
However, in stating reasons for an objection against Mr. Whittaker’s application, owner of Archie’s Place, Shedden Road, Mr. Charles Arch Dixon said that what appeared to be Liquor 4 Less customers were bringing alcohol onto his property and consuming it there. He said he and other bar owners were against Liquor 4 Less being there.
On questioning from Chairman Mitchell Welds, Mr. Stanley said he believed the name of his business is catchy, they do lots of marketing with the name, and the location also helps it, as does their service style.
‘It doesn’t matter if I make nothing. If I have smiles on my customers’ faces then I’m happy. I’m not trying to be a rich man. I only want to feed my family,’ he said.