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Newhall liquor store banks on luck

Lottery payoffs run both ways for owner and patrons

Posted: April 10, 2009 1:31 a.m.
Updated: April 10, 2009 1:29 a.m.

Valencia Liquor customer Carlos Vasquez spins the wheel for free gifts as part of a celebration for the store being named California Lottery's Retailer of the Month on Wednesday.

Customers filtered in and out of Valencia Liquor Wednesday chasing the same luck that earned a store customer the $34 million California Lottery jackpot exactly 11 years earlier.

The Lyons Avenue liquor store has sold not one, but two, SuperLOTTO Plus jackpot winning tickets in its past. It's that type of luck the helps keep customers coming back.

"I've been going to this (place) for years," said Joe Alli, of Valencia, who plays the SuperLOTTO and Fantasy Five every week. "They had the lucky winners."

That kind of luck has rubbed off on the store.

The California Lottery named Valencia Liquor, in Newhall, its Retailer of the Month for May 2009 and presented the store with a $1,500 reward on Wednesday.

"It helps to be known," said store owner Jaeyoung Hahn. "Because of the jackpot (wins), everyone refers to it as the lucky store. So when the jackpot goes up, people really come here to buy tickets."

Since becoming a Lottery retailer in July of 2005, Valencia Liquor Store has had average weekly sales of nearly $14,000. Valencia Liquor has sold more than $2.3 million in Lottery products, contributing more than $811,000 to California public schools as a result, according to a California Lottery news release.

But while sales are a large part of the criteria for the recognition, Lottery District Sales Representative Susan Tran said customer service and community involvement are also major considerations.

"(Hahn) goes out of his way to explain the game to customers," said Tran, who nominated Valencia Liquor. "He's friendly and he goes out of his way to make the customers feel comfortable, which brings repeat customers."

Hahn's parents owned the store for 10 years and Hahn and his wife Jean have owned it for the last four years.

Hahn said he tries to be involved in the community when he can. He's given to Hart High School, firefighters, a local boxing club and more. The store's success is also a result of quality customer service, he said.

"You have to be very nice, kind, understanding. And for small retailers, I think it's about speed. I try to minimize that waiting time. It helps customers come back," Hahn said.

But the wins past customers have taken away from his store continue to be a key factor for returning customers.

One past customer won $65,000 for Fantasy Five and last year a customer went to the California Lottery television game show Big Spin, Hahn said.

"I buy my tickets here all the time," said Jose Gutierrez, who works in Newhall. "I heard four years ago, someone won. Since I started working here, I just don't give up."


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