Asheville ABC Board provides community update

Press release from Asheville ABC Board, by Mark Combs:

In 1933 the 21st Amendment of the United States’ Constitution not only repealed prohibition but, coupled with the 10th Amendment, in which powers are reserved to the states, gave states control over alcohol beverage policy. In 1935 the N.C. legislature appointed a commission to study control of alcoholic beverages and develop recommendations to the 1937 General Assembly. Based on the commission’s research of state licensing and state monopoly systems, in 1937 North Carolina enacted an Alcoholic Control bill which resulted in the creation of the N.C. ABC Commission and laid the foundation for the system of control we operate under today. Unique in America, this Act allowed voters in counties and cities to determine via if spirits could be sold at retail in their respective community. Asheville established their ABC Board in 1947.

It is statistically proven that control states have lower incidents of alcohol-related issues such as DUI’s, alcoholism, alcohol-related deaths and under-aged drinking. North Carolina has a unique system that has worked well; however, modernization is necessary to keep it balanced with the current convenience culture and the necessity to carefully control how it is distributed.

In the last five years law makers have been passing legislation to modernize the 85-year-old system. In 2021HB 890 removed many outdated restrictions and opened up where and how spiritous liquors could be distributed. Last month HB 768 went even further regarding modernization to include now allowing ‘bars’, or establishments which can serve alcohol without having to serve a percentage of food.

Most citizens are not aware that North Carolina’s ABC liquor stores are owned and operated by the communities they live in. While the State’s ABC Commission enforces liquor laws, sets prices, warehouses and distributes liquor, 172 independent ABC boards across the state conduct all the retail sales. There are no state-owned retail stores in North Carolina.

“I’m amazed how few people know that their ABC stores are locally owned and operated with their profits and grants program funding going right back into the community they serve”, said Asheville ABC Board Chairman Jan Davis. “We run our system like a business and focus on modern stores, plenty of choices, excellent customer service, and efficiency. We must constantly balance good business practices with responsible sales because what we sell is unique.”

Did you know that the state’s ABC system requires ZERO tax dollars to operate? In fiscal year 2022 liquor taxes put $671M into the state’s general fund and into the coffers of communities with ABC boards with the Asheville ABC Board distributing $4.8M in profits to Asheville and Buncombe County. The profits stay in the community where the spirits are sold.

Today Asheville is the eighth largest board in the state and fourth in commercial liquor sales. Did you know that Buncombe County is technically a ‘dry’ county? Fortunately, four municipalities including Asheville, Black Mountain, Weaverville and Woodfin voted to sell spiritous liquor. Last year these four boards’ combined liquors sales were $55.5M, with over 80% of sales coming from Asheville’s nine stores.

N.C. statutes also require ABC Boards to fund alcohol law enforcement and allocate 7% of its profits for alcohol and drug education and rehabilitation. Last month Asheville ABC awarded $340,000 to the following organizations:

First at Blue Ridge, Inc.
Homeward Bound
Next Step Recovery
Asheville 12-Step Recovery Club
Aurora Studio & Gallery
ARC of Buncombe County
PivotPoint WNC
Our Voice
Caring for Children
Delta House Life Development

“All of our profits go back to the City of Asheville and Buncombe County, and our grants program funds alcohol & drug education and treatment programs for the many who really need help. These eleven local agencies work hard to make a difference in people’s lives,” said Davis.

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