Photo by Hubble Ray Smith.
KINGMAN – Almost a year to the date after a fire destroyed his liquor store, Hetal Dave has reopened Byers Liquor and Convenience store at 3019 Northern Ave., though the shelves are about half-stocked and signage is two to three weeks from being finished.
The beer coolers are packed, though, and that seems to be what most of Byers’ first-week customers were coming into the market for. Beer and cigarettes – the big sellers at Byers – are in abundant supply.
Byers had been doing drive-through business out of a couple of shipping containers until he received the final occupancy inspection from Kingman Fire Department last week. He had his “soft” opening on Friday, beating the June 27, 2016, anniversary of the fire.
“It was more of a psychological thing for me to open before one year,” said Dave, who came to Kingman 15 years ago and also owns the Byer’s Liquor that opened in March at the former Circle K on Kingman Avenue.
“That was my goal. Let’s get it done. It was better to move into this and stock it later rather than have two ConEx containers.”
The biggest challenge was getting all the necessary permits from Mohave County health and building departments and the fire department, Dave said. He said county staff gave him “no hassle at all” in the permit process of submitting plans for the remodel.
He also wanted to thank the community for all the years of support.
Nothing could be salvaged from the fire, except for a handheld calculator that Dave still uses, and the 3,800-square-foot building had to be completely remodeled. Official cause of the fire was never disclosed by insurance investigators, but it was accidental, Dave said.
The fire occurred about a year and a half after Dave bought Byers Liquor, which was originally owned by former Mohave County Supervisor Pete Byers and had been closed for four months.
While he would not disclose the purchase price or renovation cost, Dave said a liquor license for his business costs about $175,000 and is limited issuance. He said he has no regrets about buying the liquor store.
“People change their habits, so you have to start from scratch, start building your customer base,” the business owner said. “There were regulars before, and they came back. That’s one reason we had the drive-up window, whatever we could stock in there, which was like five or six coolers.”