Northampton ABC Board plans to upgrade store

Published 4:33 pm Tuesday, May 9, 2023

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JACKSON – Northampton County’s ABC Board is hoping to upgrade at least one of their stores to a more modern style.

ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) Boards exist in all but two counties in North Carolina, and their mission is to responsibly control the sale of liquor. Northampton County’s ABC Board operates four ABC stores, located in Conway, Gaston, Jackson, and Rich Square.

Daryl Williams, who serves as chair of the county ABC Board, appeared before the Northampton County Board of Commissioners during their workshop meeting on May 1.

He spoke first about a request to include their full-time employee on the county’s insurance plan – something which had been done previously from 1991 through 2013, he explained. Williams said it would be a cost-saving measure if approved.

No decision was made at Monday’s meeting on the request, however, because it was an informational workshop only.

Williams then shared the ABC Board’s upcoming plans for the Gaston ABC store. He said representatives from the state’s ABC commission visited their stores to look at ways to improve profitability.

“They highly recommend that we start the process of changing all of our stores over to a self-service type store,” he explained.

Currently, customers who visit Northampton County stores have to tell a clerk what alcohol they want to purchase.

“What that does is stop impulse buys,” Williams explained.

There’s no option to browse the shelves like you would in a self-service type of store. Williams said that self-service allows people to buy more things that they might not have otherwise, and also discover new products they might want to try.

“Most counties realize an increase of 20-40 percent going to a self-service store,” he added, referencing Hertford County’s upgraded store in Murfreesboro, which opened in 2022, as an example.

The Northampton ABC Board plans to start exploring the upgrade to self-service with their store in Gaston. The current store, however, is not large enough to be converted to the new style, so they’re looking at options to purchase a vacant building in town for relocation.

Because they’ve never done this kind of project before, Williams said he was sharing the information with the commissioners in case they needed assistance moving forward.

Overall, Williams said that their current projected budget has costs outweighing profits, and that they are looking at ways to fix that problem.

“We’ve got to increase sales and then we’ve got to lower our costs,” Williams summarized.

“We’re with you. Let’s make a profit,” said Board Chair Charles Tyner. “There needs to be something done about that. It’s a business. It needs to make money.”

Earlier this year – and in comments he reiterated again at Monday’s meeting – Tyner pointed out that Northampton is the only local county that does not receive a substantial amount of money back from ABC Board sales.

As previously reported by the News Herald, Northampton County received a revenue distribution of $10,520 in Fiscal Year 2021, all of which was designated to be distributed to law enforcement.

According to the state ABC commission’s website, gross profits from Northampton County’s ABC Board are to be distributed for alcohol education and law enforcement in accordance with state statutes. Any net profits will then be distributed 25 percent to incorporated municipalities (based on population) and the remainder to the Northampton County General Fund.

The breakdown of revenue distributions from ABC Boards varies from county to county.