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Laguna Logo 2022

Shelley Arends and Kelly Cornwell marry old and new in updating historic Spigot Liquor


Kelly Cornwell and Shelley Arends, the husband-and-wife team behind the transformation of Spigot Liquor, have lived three blocks from the historic store for 37 years. Before they bought the business in December 2021, it had sadly become an eyesore – with windows boarded up and pornography covering the Pearl Street window. 

“It was in a state of neglect and a blight on the neighborhood, but we never intended to be liquor store owners,” said Cornwell. “We heard it was up for sale and decided to purchase it and put a sandwich shop next door. We wanted to revitalize the corner.”

  Shelley Arends closeup

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Kelly Cornwell and Shelley Arends

“Many people didn’t want to go into the store. By refreshing it, we wanted it to become a neighborhood store and part of the community,” Arends said. 

“Previously, only about 10% of the clientele were women, now it’s 50% and moms come in with their kids,” Cornwell said.

As the longest continuous running business in Laguna Beach, Spigot Liquor has an interesting and checkered past. It opened on October 1, 1933, two months before Prohibition was repealed on December 4 of that year. Originally a bottle shop, customers came in to refill their jugs from a barrel, hence the name Spigot Liquor. Ahead of its time, it was the first business in California to have stereophonic sound. A popular urban legend is that in the 1930s, they distilled their own liquor, carried it down to Pearl Street beach and loaded it onto boats destined for Santa Monica.

Shelley Arends historic spigot

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Courtesy of Kelly Cornwell

Spigot Liquor in the old days

Interesting facts: 1950 was the last time the store was robbed. “We installed security cameras,” Cornwell said. “The police used the footage to solve a hit and run in front of the store a while back.” They now have metal screens that roll down at night.

The Quonset hut behind the store was used to house World War II servicemen and many of their names are carved on the inside wall where the bunks were stacked.

“Spigot was owned by the Ware Family, who live in Riverside. We purchased the business, but they still own the property,” Cornwell said. “They were delighted.” The Ware family also owns Sea Horse, residential properties in Laguna and Bev Mo in Dana Point.

A family affair

Thirty-seven years ago, Arends and Cornwell ended up in Laguna due to a real estate upswing in Hacienda Heights. “Our property value doubled and we decided to sell. We looked around everywhere between here and L.A., and we fell in love with Laguna,” Cornwell said. “For 15 years, I drove to L.A. for work, five days a week, sometimes six, but it was worth it.”

Shelley Arends exterior

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Spigot Liquor 2023

They each brought a specific talent to the store update. Arends has a background in marketing (she owned Rhythmride, Laguna Soup Co., Laguna Magical Cottages and is the founder of beachBRELLA). Cornwell has a background in logistics and retired six years ago from UPS. They worked together to make Spigot Liquor a sought-after place for both locals and visitors.

Sometime in the spring, Arends and Cornwell’s son Zac, a certified financial planner, will launch Wigz, a sandwich deli restaurant in the existing retail space next door. Why the name Wigz? “The space was occupied by Charles Wigs,” Arends said. It was established in 1965. Wigz will have outdoor dining both in the front and the back, a hidden and enchanting area that will be a beer garden. 

Their other son, Zane, lives in Boise, Idaho, and is working to get his commercial pilot’s license.

Shelley Arends spigot

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Woodworker Roger Taft made a new spigot for the barrel. It had been missing for decades. 

Exterior and interior 

“A local woodworker Roger Taft crafted a spigot, which has been missing for decades, for the original barrel above the entrance and donated it,” Cornwell said. “The original exterior pecking wood was retained and windows of the era (which were previously hidden by wood) were uncovered above the door to Wigz.

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The updating of Spigot’s interior is nothing short of miraculous. Previously claustrophobic and cluttered, the store is now a blend of original and retro elements – the wood walls and a large refrigerated cooler – and new features such as the lighting and wallpaper. “I wanted to keep that look,” Arends said. “We painted the ceilings black which makes the already high ceiling appear even higher. We installed new windows to open up and brighten the space.” 

Shelley Arends snacks

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Bright and airy

Resembling a fine wine shop, one room is devoted to wine and spirits. Arends, who designed it, said, “The custom hand-printed wallpaper is from England and the hanging lights are Italian Bloom fixtures.” Additional ceiling lights are also custom. The overall effect is inviting, and the displays are attractive and accessible.

Shelley Arends wine room

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

A wide variety of wines and spirits 

 “We specialize in sourcing great wines ranging from vineyards in California to France and Italy, high-end tequilas and a great selection of specialty bourbons,” Arends said. “We hired a wine expert, and he keeps us up to date on what’s popular. We have Pinot Noir from the Russian River, Kosher wine, rare French white and Sancerre, which is popular now. It’s also great to know the stories behind the wines. We have the only allocation of Clase Azul [tequila] in Laguna Beach, including Clase Azul Ultra and collectible bottles.”

“We carry lots of wines you can’t find other places,” added Cornwell. 

The “spirits” area includes a humidifier with top-of-the-line cigars.

Focus on local

There’s a reason that Arends and Cornwell’s LLC is named Local Laguna LLC. They’re all about supporting locals as Cornwell explained, “We support the community where we can. We’ve been in the same house for 37 years and raised our family here.” (Both of their sons graduated from Laguna Beach High School.) The store sponsors a local men’s softball team.

“We carry locally founded brands such as Two Shores Gin,” Cornwell said. “We also stock KUMU energy drinks from two young local entrepreneurs.” They also carry Dos Boots Mezcal, which sports a unique label made from Agave pulp.

“We look for new brands that are also carried in nearby restaurants and bars, so we can work together,” he said.

Shelley Arends KUMU

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

KUMU, an energy drink from two local entrepreneurs

Of the wonderful gourmet snack items they offer, some are local – gourmet snack cheeses, Magu Hot Sauce and Mozambique Peri Peri Sauce. “Many of the hotel visitors come in for snacks,” Arends said. “About 30% of the year-round business is from hotels.”

Arends described one cooler section full of jewel-colored containers as, “An adult candy store with ready-to-drink cocktails such as Vodkucha.” 

A great place to work

Spigot has six employees, and apparently, it’s a top-notch place to work. 

Phil Martinez said, “I live here in town and used to live in the Woods Cove area back in the late ‘80s to the late ‘90s, so I know how the store was like before and now the store is a place for all the neighborhood. I started to work for Shelley and Kelly back in July 2022 and I was looking for a part-time job after being retired 13 years from the South Coast Water District. I had worked for the water district for 35 years and had completed all the honey-do’s around the house. 

“Working at Spigot has been great, working for Shelley and Kelly has been great, the other coworkers are great. I’ve seen the store come to life as for the time I’ve been there. The upgraded changes to the store have been something to be proud of. I get to interact with the customers and see some of the locals. Overall, Spigot Liquor is good for Laguna as a small neighborhood store.”

“We have amazing employees that are very trustworthy,” Cornwell said. “I don’t want to spend all my time at the store – I’m retired.” 

Shelley Arends couple outside

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Spigot Liquor will celebrate its 90th anniversary this year

Off the beaten path

The fact that they have great employees allows the family to spend time doing what they love – off-roading.

Arends, Cornwell and their family are avid off-roaders. So much so, they built a unique home in Borrego Springs from shipping containers and spend a lot of time there. Granted, Cornwell had a lot of experience with shipping containers during his time at UPS. They also tried to use recycled materials as much as possible in the construction.

Carrying on the legacy of Spigot Liquor

“Everyone has a story about Spigot Liquor,” Cornwell said. “The main thing is that we love our customers, and they love us. The mat in front of the door used to say ‘no trespassing, no loitering’ and now it says, ‘Welcome.’ It never gets old to hear compliments about what the store looks like now and we get that a lot.”

In October, Spigot Liquor will celebrate its 90th anniversary and no doubt, there will be a fantastic celebration as they honor nine decades of business – refreshed and rejuvenated. 

“We feel blessed we got to do this and create a positive change for Laguna,” Arends said.

Spigot Liquor is located at 1802 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach. For more information, visit

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