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Landmark Liquors is having near-record sales this year

Landmark Liquors is having a good year, and that's good news for Perham taxpayers.

Sales at the municipal liquor store are up 12.5 percent from this time last year, putting the store on track to have its second-best year ever. That means more money in the city coffers, going toward projects that would otherwise be dipping deeper into taxpayer's pockets.

"We had great summer traffic again," said manager Bob Dreger in an interview last week. "It shows that people are responding to things that are going on here and that it's a good place to shop."

Dreger and the liquor store staff have been making efforts over the last year to improve the shopping experience and attract and retain more customers. A store remodel in January has helped "make things flow better," he said, and customers are now noticing products that they used to just walk right by.

A billboard that went up along Highway 10 last spring has also "been a big plus," he said, as it's been bringing in new customers. Store sales and other incentives, along with good customer service and a wide selection of products, keep those customers coming back.

Not to mention the sheer size of the store, adds Dreger - with its wide, open aisles and "more cooler doors" than most other liquor stores for miles around. The store has also held some successful open house and tasting events, and has just created a new facebook page.

But the real secret to the liquor store's success, Dreger said, is the people - both the staff and the customers.

"The people we have here are just solid," he said of his staff. "They're great people and they care about the products we sell. And then if you have a community that supports you, it all just comes together."

Already this year, $30,000 in liquor store revenues has been dedicated to a community project - the new grandstands at Tuffy Stadium.

Liquor store revenues are used to support a variety of community events and projects. They also fund the Perham Area Community Center to keep membership rates as low as possible, and go into the city's general fund to help keep property taxes down.

Last year, a total of $172,000 was channeled from Landmark Liquor's revenues back into the community. Of that amount, more than $134,000 would have otherwise come from increased tax levies. Without the liquor store, the city's tax levy would have gone up 11 percent in 2012 (instead, the levy is preliminarily set at a 1 percent increase).

"You can come in here and get what you need, and help the community," said Dreger.