Liquor shortage: Why NC is impacted more than other states

North Carolina news

CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – “Tequila is really hard to get right now. I know Tito’s is hard to get,” said General Manager of Fenwick’s in Charlotte Dustin Rabb. “Just in the last instance, I was ordering 10 bottles, and I got four from the liquor order.”

About 170 Alcohol Beverage Control Boards across the state dominate the sale, distribution, and prices of liquor. It is a system that has been in place since the 1940s.

Every bottle on shelves at bars comes from the same distribution center and is labeled.

“As of late, it seems that every inventory item that I type into the order form for the ABC, it said out of stock, out of stock, out of stock. Every single one of them,” said Daniel Weiss at Wine Loft in South End.

A Charlotte ABC employee said inventory on shelves is light from a lack of delivery drivers and glass.

Those who serve alcohol for a living say the shortage also has to do with how much alcohol people have been drinking within the last two years.

“I feel that like during the pandemic; consumption went way up. I feel like a lot of the inventories went way down and some of these spirits take time to age,” Weiss said.

Just over the border, privately owned liquor stores in South Carolina have plenty of options.

“Right now, North Carolina currently has about 500-700 available liquors in stock. We currently have at Southern Spirits almost 6,000 different liquors, so when people actually say, ‘Wow, there’s a lot more available,’ people just kept coming and started telling their friends and it definitely boosted sales and customer numbers,” said Drew Podrebarac, the owner of Southern Spirits.

Efforts in North Carolina to scrap ABC stores have been brought to a vote in recent years and failed to pass.

Two lawmakers in Guilford County sponsored a bill in 2019 that would have allowed privatized stores to sell liquor.

In that same year, Mecklenburg County Commissioners approved a resolution to continue ABC stores.  

“That’s the way I’ve done it and just the way that it’s going to be. I don’t think it’s going to change,” Rabb said.

While some brands are harder to get than others, Rabb said they will continue to have liquor on their shelves.

“There is a concern to run out of some, but I think that they will always have something in the category of vodka, tequila, bourbon,” Rabb said.

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