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Keizer Liquor now largest in the state

Christy and Oliver Coker. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
Christy and Oliver Coker. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

Keizer Liquor is now open at its new location in Schoolhouse Square and, if you’re human, you’re not going to be able to resist running your hand over the bar.

“They sent us out looking for a board that was this big and this wide and we picked this one out at a Salem salvage yard. It ended up being gorgeous,” said Christy Coker, who co-owns the shop with her husband, Oliver.

The bar is centerpiece of the new store, 5023 River Road N., and a sign of things to come.

“We want to make it an event bar highlighting local distilleries and local wineries for the people whose products we sell. We’re also hoping to bring people in to do educational talks about how everything ends up in the bottle,” said Oliver.

While work on the bar is still being completed, customers can sign up for text messages and email blasts about upcoming events at the shop’s new website,

The Cokers took ownership of Keizer Liquor in January 2014 and have had their sights on the Schoolhouse Square space even before it became available.

“We’ve always thought this space would be a good space for the store, and when we presented the move to the OLCC (Oregon Liquor Control Commission) this was the space we envisioned,” Oliver said.

The floor space has more than doubled from the prior location further south on River Road and that’s made way for a bevy of new products. In addition to a wider selection of wines, with a focus on Northwest vintners, an exponentially larger selection of cigars, a gift shop, and more Oregon-made liquor products, the Cokers are putting a spotlight on craft beers.

“We have a lot of Oregon-made items, 13 doors of Northwest craft beers and three doors of 22-oz craft beers. We’re also always changing and trying to figure out the right mix for Keizer,” Oliver said. “We try to stock things customers might not find in a grocery store.”

One side effect of the move is that Keizer Liquor is now the largest liquor store in the state.

“That wasn’t intended, it just kind of happened,” Oliver said.

The Cokers and their employees moved the store in one fell swoop two weeks ago, packing up the old store on a Saturday and moving it to the new site on Sunday. They opened the doors for business on Monday.

They’ve also hired new employees to take on the extra duties the new store requires.

“We started hiring before the move so we could get everybody up to speed on the systems,” Christy said. They now have a dozen employees and expect to hire another three or four for the upcoming holiday season.

“It’s been exciting … tiring, but the more it calms down, the easier it is to see the bigger picture. We’re still kind of waiting for the moment to hit us when we can appreciate how amazing it is and it’s going to be,” Christy said.