Buying alcohol will become a lot more convenient for residents in Haywood County.
For the first time in 43 years, a new ABC store will be constructed in Waynesville.
The second location will be situated behind Hardee’s on South Main Street and will be accessed off the entrance drive into Wal-Mart. It will likely capture traffic from all over the county, snagging a greater share of ABC profits distributed in Haywood County.
For now, the Waynesville ABC board is close to finalizing the deal but is still awaiting approval from the state ABC commission.
“Everything’s looking pretty good right now,” said Waynesville ABC Chairman Earl Clark. “It’s a real ideal spot.”
The property itself will cost between $450,000 and $500,000, according to Clark. The store, which will measure about 5,000 square feet, will cost approximately $500,000 to construct.
Waynesville’s original ABC store was built in 1967 and is far too small, Clark said. The ABC board has been anxious to build a new store for several years.
“Our store is just small,” said Clark. “We have no way of displaying and stocking like a lot of the larger stores do.”
With only two alcohol shipments each month from Raleigh and little storage space, it’s been tough for the store to replenish stock.
The convenience of neighboring Wal-Mart might increase revenues for the ABC board, but the Town of Waynesville and Haywood County might not see a payoff any time soon.
Town Manager Lee Galloway said the additional expenses of debt payment, personnel and utilities will scoop up much of the new revenue generated by the store for years to come.
“I do think because of the cost of the store and the personnel involved, the town’s revenues are going down, not up,” said Galloway.
Local governments will only realize the full benefit of the new store when it is paid off.
The town estimates that it’ll receive $94,000 from ABC profits this year. Last year, the town got $112,000, which was spent on law enforcement and alcohol education.
Alternatively, the Town of Maggie Valley has received no money from ABC’s profits in the last few years. A second ABC store was built on Dellwood Road there in 2009.
“We’ve been allowing them to keep the excess to help pay for the second store,” said Tim Barth, town manager for Maggie Valley.
The town annexed a satellite tract a mile outside town limits to get a parcel close to Waynesville, grabbing customers who’d usually travel to Waynesville’s ABC store.
The ABC board in Maggie set aside money years in advance to buy inventory for the new store and save up for the debt payments.
Maggie’s second store was successful in luring customers away from Waynesville’s ABC store, due to its strategic geographic location that’s closer to Waynesville than Maggie. Sales rose for the Maggie Valley ABC board in 2008-2009, but not enough to save the board from landing in the red.
According to annual reports from the town of Maggie Valley, the ABC board operated at a loss of $5,600 in the ’08-’09 year. In comparison, the board’s income from operations in the 2007-2008 fiscal year was a solid $72,479.
Revenues at both the Maggie Valley and Waynesville ABC stores will likely be adversely affected by alcohol sales at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino. Liquor sales at the casino started in late 2009.
Is privatization on the way?
Talks of privatizing liquor sales in North Carolina may hinder Waynesville’s plans for a second Alcoholic Beverage Control store.
The governor has appointed a committee to study reform of the ABC system, including the possibility of privatizing alcohol sales.
Calls for reform were sounded after it was discovered that two ABC staffers in New Hanover County were being paid a combined $350,000 annually. Meanwhile, liquor industry representatives had treated Mecklenburg County ABC board staffers to multiple lavish meals, with one tab totaling $12,700.
Earl Clark, chairman of the Waynesville ABC board, said his board would be hesitant to build a new store if the state decides to follow through with privatization and end the monopoly of ABC boards.
“There’s no doubt that it would affect us because we don’t want to do something that we’d lose money or the town would lose money,” said Clark.
Clark said though the system could use reform, privatizing the system would prove harmful for local governments that get a cut of the profits.
“I think that it would hurt the town and the county on their distribution,” said Clark