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SYCAMORE – Jose Pineda's attention was grabbed when he heard about what the City of Sycamore is doing in order to help small businesses like his, the ones that sell the hooch.
Pineda owns County Liquors, 625 E. State St., Sycamore, and when he heard that the city is automatically renewing liquor licenses on May 1, which were to expire April 30, and push the fees until Aug. 1, he sounded relieved.
"That would be great if they would help out with that," said Pineda, who runs the store with four employees. "Right now there is no business. It's very slow."
Current liquor license holders do not have to do anything to renew their licenses at this time, according to the City of Sycamore's website.
"The City will send the renewal letter that is usually sent in March at a later date outlining the modified process," the website states.
Pineda said not having to pay for tobacco and liquor license by the end of April would save him a little bit over $2,000, which will help during the coronavirus pandemic.
"I hope we don't run out of business," Pineda said. "It's only [been] two weeks and it's hard."
His store hours, which usually run from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Pineda said, have changed to 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
"Today, we opened at 9 o'clock and we've only had one customer," he said a little after 11 a.m. Tuesday.
Feeling the sting of fewer customers enter his store, he said he thinks he know why his business is suffering during the coronavirus outbreak.
"[People are] just buying everything in one place, so they don't have to go to different places to buy what they need."
Pineda blamed area big-box stores.
"For a small business, it's hard," he said. "Not [hard for] big chains like Jewel and Wal-Mart. They're making more money than before."
Pineda said Wal-Mart and Jewel are also selling its beer, wine, and liquor, for less than what stores like County Liquor are.
"Even without the coronavirus, it's hard for us to compete with the big chains," he said.
Pineda said he might sell a 12-pack of beer for $12, while Wal-Mart is selling the same 12-pack for $10.
He said Wal-Mart sells the liquor for less because they can.
"They are losing money on beer, but they're making money on everything else," Pineda said.
Pineda said he's having the same problem with gas stations equipped with liquor licenses, because he's competing with them, too.
"[We sell] a 24-pack of Miller Lite for $17.99," he said. "We just raised the price a couple nights ago. We're not making money."
Pineda said County Liquors does not only sell liquor and tobacco, but it also rents moving trucks.
This article has been edited to include a clarification to the store hours.