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Making Wishes Come True

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

Liquor & Wine Warehouse

By Connie Mandeville • Photos by Jessica McCafferty

For 48 years, Liquor & Wine Warehouse has been a North Country staple. For almost as long, Steve and Carol Carpenter have been a formidable force in community fundraising. As firm believers in karma, giving back to the community has been one of their top priorities and is a quality they have passed on to their children and their employees. After almost five decades in business and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for local charities, the Carpenters look to the future and their legacy in the North Country.

Located on Smithfield Boulevard in the heart of Plattsburgh’s commercial district, Liquor & Wine Warehouse is not your typical liquor store. Part of what sets it apart is that Steve and Carol Carpenter make their employees and their customers feel like family, almost like a trip down Memory Lane in Mayberry. While they treat their employees like family, the store is a true family affair with Steve and their son, David, running the day-to-day operations and Carol and their daughter, Katelyn, managing public relations. But what makes the store a pillar of the North Country community is the Carpenters willingness to help their neighbors. Every year they donate thousands of dollars to help with local fundraisers and community groups in addition to organizing their own fundraisers for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northeast New York.

Both Steve and Carol grew up in the North Country. Steve learned the hospitality business from his parents who owned a hotel, restaurant and liquor store in Plattsburgh located near Georgia Pacific. After a brief stint at Clinton Community College, he decided that college was not for him and joined the family business. While still managing his father’s liquor store, Steve opened another liquor store with George Barnett Sr., which became Liquor & Wine Warehouse. Steve bought out Barnett after ten years and the rest, as he says, is history.

“But it wasn’t without its challenges,” Steve noted. In the beginning, they were a 1,500 square foot space competing with some larger liquor stores. They were able to succeed because they offered what others did not -- they accepted credit cards and had the lottery. Additionally, they opened an hour earlier and stayed open two hours later than their competition. “That’s an additional 18 hours a week,” Steve noted. “While it wasn’t easy, it was worth it. Like with any business, what you put in, you get out.”

Liquor & Wine Warehouse has gone through several transformations over the years. For fifteen years it was located across from Vikings Ski and Cycle on Route 3 (now Champlain Valley Vet) before they moved to a location near what was then the Howard Johnson’s on Smithfield Boulevard. About 20 years ago, they settled at the Four Seasons Plaza which Steve built with help from his father and brother. “We built it because we wanted to dip our feet into commercial real estate,” Steve explained. In addition to owning half of the Plaza, they also own the Econo Lodge in Plattsburgh and Clearwater, Florida, as well as apartments and other real estate properties. Steve and Carol’s next adventure is building storage units which are currently in the works.

Liquor & Wine Warehouse

About 25 years ago, the couple decided they wanted to set an example for their children and give more to the community. Steve started out as a wish granter for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, but decided to use his ability to raise funds for the organization itself. He knew there were others who could take on the responsibility of being a wish granter, but not everyone was good at asking for money. Since then, the Carpenters have organized the Naked Turtle Golf Tournament, Make-A-Wish Night at Airborne Speedway, bar crawls, and more for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Over the years, they have successfully fundraised close to $400,000 to help grant wishes for local North Country children with cancer.

It is not easy work. Fundraisers take a lot of nagging and energy year after year, but it is important to the Carpenters to give back to the community that continues to be good to them. Fundraising is something Steve and Carol have passed on to their children, making it a true family affair. According to Steve, Carol and Katelyn do 80% of the work for the Make-A-Wish Foundation now, but David has taken on his own cause. His daughter Vivienne, has PACS1, which is a rare neurodevelopmental disease. For three years David has organized a cornhole tournament to raise money for research. After a recent $25,000 donation from Adirondack for Kids, David has raised over $70,000 in just three years.

Childhood diseases and cancer are not the only causes the Carpenters support. When it comes to asking for a donation, locals know the Carpenters are always willing to contribute something. In total, they estimate they give about $50,000 a year, not including baskets of cheer and gift certificates.

There is no cause too large or too small for the Carpenters. They donate to various charities from American Legions and VFWs to local museums, to the University of Vermont Health Network Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital (CVPH). They contribute to individual fundraisers to help locals with their medical care, funerals or recovery from a fire or natural disaster. They donate supplies to local schools at the beginning of each year and, every holiday season, the Carpenters donate to the Clinton County Sheriffs Department Toy Drive, the City of Plattsburgh Police Department Toy Drive, and Assemblyman Billy Jones’ Toy Drive. They admit they cannot remember all the causes they donate to, but to them that is a good problem to have.

Liquor & Wine Warehouse

25 Smithfield Boulevard

Plattsburgh, NY 12901

518 563-2227

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