A longtime Las Vegas liquor store will now carry CBD-infused drinks.
South Korean immigrant continues to expand his enterprise, Lee’s Discount Liquor, with more stores, trying out a potential new product line for his loyal customer base.
In 1980, Hae Un Lee came to the United States from his home in South Korea, in search of the American dream. He began building his liquor sales empire in Las Vegas, personally gambling that his hard work would drive customers to his stores and help him move his family to the states for a better life.
His timing was perfect. At the time, liquor was only being sold in supermarkets in the city, and there were no independent liquor stores.
Today, Lee has opened 22 locations, including 18 Lee’s Discount Liquor stores in Las Vegas, one in Mesquite, Nevada, one in Wendover, Nevada, and two in Reno, with more stores planned in the coming year.
“Mr. Lee started from scratch,” says Marsha Gutowski, director of marketing and events. “He wanted to do something that would provide a living and benefit his kids’ education, and he was really hardworking.”
Lee opened his first liquor store in Vegas in 1981. He bought a 2,500-square-foot strip mall store just two miles off the Vegas Strip called A-Plaza Liquor Barn. “His mentality was that he always wanted to be on top,” Gutowski says. “That’s why he chose that name. It put the company at the top of the list in the Yellow Pages.”
Lee’s Discount Liquor stores carry hundreds of brands of wine, beer, and liquor, including Turkish and Russian liquor products, plus rare and hard-to-find items like Pappy Van Winkle bourbon.
With all the recent action about legalizing recreational cannabis in Vegas, and the many dispensaries popping up over the last three years, the potential market for selling infused CBD drinks caught Lee’s attention.
“We have been researching CBD drinks to bring into our stores and currently have one Artic Ice in five different flavors. That’s the first one we’ve decided to carry,” Gutowski says. The company has been looking at several other CBD-infused drink companies. “We are keeping an eye on the trend.”
Lee’s Discount Liquor hosts two annual experiences, one in May, featuring beer and tequila, and one in November, featuring wine. The proceeds from the experiences go to Lee’s own nonprofit organization, Lee’s Helping Hand Foundation, which then distributes that money to selected charities across Nevada, such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Nevada.