New Liquor Store Enjoys Big Welcome

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An advertisement about a beer sale that aired at noon one Saturday filled the parking lot at Rim Liquor. Coupled with newspaper ads about the sale, the store was kept so busy it sold 240 cases of beer in two days.

Rim Liquor has only been open for three weeks and owners Gwen and Bill Tonstad are already enjoying great business.

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Gwen and Bill Tonstad are thrilled with the response residents of the Rim country have given their store, Rim Liquor. The store has only been open three weeks and is already doing great business.

The couple retired six years ago and moved here full-time after being summer residents since 1959.

The Tonstad family built a cabin in the Ellison Creek Summer Homes area and that is where Bill and Gwen retired when he finished his career with U.S. West.

"We decided we wanted something to do, so when Walgreens decided to discontinue its liquor sales in its new store, we said that is what we can do," Gwen said.

Their retirement years have been anything but idle. Both are active with the Tonto Village Fire Department. Gwen is a first responder and Bill is a volunteer firefighter. He also is active in the Ellison Creek Summer Homes homeowners' group, working with them to get the property exchanged with the U.S. Forest Service.

But the liquor store is what has really occupied their time over the past several months.

"We love it," Gwen said of their new -- and first -- business venture. "We thought we knew everyone in Payson, but we're meeting new people all the time. It's fun, though it's long hours, but we offer a service."

The store has 10 different distributors and everything is computerized, Bill said. It helps him keep a close eye on inventory, so he is quick to answer what's the most popular beverage: "Beer."

There are specials every week. They did their big beer sale as a grand opening special and for Easter, they will feature wines.

"People can come in without having to go to the back of the store to find what they're looking for," Gwen said. "We want this to be a real friendly place."

"We've been accepted extremely well by Payson and treated very well," Bill said.

Gwen said they are going to be very conscientious about all the rules and regulations that go with having a liquor store. They also are going to be active in the business community.

Just opening a business, the Tonstads don't have a lot of free time anymore, but when they take a break they enjoy a variety of pursuits. Gwen said she likes walking in the forest looking for fossils, while Bill likes to fish.

"We both love ATV-ing. We each have one," he said.

The store carries a wide variety of liquor, wine, beer, mixes and ice. The Tonstads will take special orders. too. Rim Liquor, at 807 A South Beeline Highway, Payson, is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday. Call (928) 472-2200 for more information.

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