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Liberta’s has a new owner

Kimmarie Pharmakides bought Liberta Spirit Shoppe in part because she wanted to get back to work now that her three kids are all in school, but soon after buying the store, she found out she was pregnant. —Jake Kara photo

Liberta Spirit Shoppe has a new owner who bought the shop because she didn’t need to stay home with her kids anymore as they got older, though her plan would soon change.

Mike and Teri Liberta, who bought the shop in the 1980s, decided it was time to retire, do a little traveling and spend time with family, though they are staying right here in town.

“I was working for Union Carbide as a part manager. They moved the plant and I didn’t want to move, so we purchased the store,” Mr. Liberta said.

“Within a year after we bought it, they de-controlled the pricing of liquor,” he said. At that time, “the price of retail was what you sold it for,” he said. After the law was changed, for liquor and then for wine, there was only a “minimum bottle price.”

“So you had to figure out what price you wanted to sell things for.”

“A lot of stores weren’t able to cope with that and they did go out of business,” he said.

Other things have changed, too. The Internet has provided stiff competition, and a change to the state’s so-called “blue laws” lifted the prohibition on Sunday sales — which some — particularly small shop owners — argued would only spread six days’ sales over seven.

For new owner, Kimmarie Pharmakides, Sunday sales, which became legal while she was still looking for a store to buy, were not that much of an issue, since she was looking at stores in New York, where Sunday sales were already legal.

She looked for the right spot for over a year.

“I wanted an area that felt comfortable and warm, where I didn’t have to worry about being in the store by myself. I wanted something homier and quainter, which is what this town has.”

“We have friends in the area who are customers here,” she said. “They were the ones who told us that the store was for sale.”

She decided to buy the store and she opened the shop for the first time Dec. 14.

Her thinking that she’d be spending less time taking care of kids in the coming years changed.

“I have three and actually wound up pregnant after I bought the store, so I have another on the way,” she said.

“It changed the way I was planning to run [the store].”

“I’ll have someone here full-time. Hopefully I’ll be able to do a lot of the paperwork and ordering from home.”

Ms. Pharmakides is also expanding the store’s liquor selection while keeping all the wine.

“The previous owners are the nicest couple I think I’ve ever met,” Ms. Pharmakides said. “If I have a question about anything, they’re always a phone call away.”

Mr. Liberta was even helping out. He was building shelves for the new liquor inventory when he took a break to speak with The Press last Monday.

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