The state’s rejection of Walmart’s liquor license deal with neighbors means the El Con store will now stay open 24/7.
The store at 3435 E. Broadway will be open around the clock beginning Monday, Walmart announced Wednesday. The new store opened for business Sept. 11 with reduced hours of 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., to appease midtown residents who didn’t want it open all night.
Walmart representatives said the change is in response to the Arizona State Liquor Board’s decision nearly two weeks ago to deny the retail giant a rehearing on its liquor license.
Earlier this month, Walmart and midtown neighbors struck a deal where the store agreed to close its doors at 11 every night at El Con in exchange for the neighbors dropping their objections to a liquor license.
The deal was contingent on the liquor board reversing itself and granting Walmart a license.
“The liquor board’s negative decision really voided any agreements that we made … and really forced us back to square one and tied our hands,” said Walmart director of communications Delia Garcia.
Garcia said the company is simply returning to its original plan to offer customers 24-hour service.
In addition to the store hours, Walmart also agreed to not sell guns or ammunition at the store if it holds a liquor license.
Garcia said the company never intended to sell guns at the El Con site and that remains the plan moving forward.
“This decision to go 24 hours does not affect the merchandising decision,” she said.
City Councilman Steve Kozachik, who brokered the deal between the two sides, said Walmart can’t be blamed for the change.
“When the state said no to the beer, they were pretty much forced into this as a short-term fix,” Kozachik said.
Walmart can apply next summer for a liquor license, but Garcia couldn’t say whether the company would do so.
“If we decide to go down that road in the future, we’re hopeful we can have conversations with the neighbors again and gain their support for license application,” Garcia said. “We’ve been really encouraged with the conversations we’ve had with them up to this point and we hope that we can have positive conversations with them in the future.”
Kozachik said he’s prepared to get the two sides back together next spring and redo the deal and he’s confident it will work out.