Tryon ABC store future still unclear

Published 2:22pm Friday, October 26, 2012

Store remains closed

The Tryon ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) store will remain closed at least until after town council’s Nov. 20 meeting and it’s future remains unclear.

The ABC board met Thursday, Oct. 25 for the first time in months due to lack of volunteer members following the town and the state closing the ABC store on Sept. 7.

ABC board members discovered during the meeting that they need a lot more information regarding the store’s financials before it can recommend whether or not to re-open the store.

The N.C. ABC Commission conducted an audit of the store following its closing and discovered approximately $3,000 in inventory missing. The state commission recommended that the town either close the store or merge with the Town of Columbus’ store due to the store not generating revenue for years.

Tryon Town Manager Caitlin Martin attended the ABC board meeting and said the town has the recommended options or to keep the store open on its own if the board thinks the store can make money.

She said the state audit concluded that there were almost 400 bottles of liquor missing from the store ranging in size. The majority of the missing inventory were mini bottles at 128 bottles missing, but there were also 122 fifths missing and 79 half gallons missing, among others.

ABC board member Dennis Durham said he was under the impression that most of the missing bottles were mini bottles, which could be stopped by securing those behind the counter.

“But half gallons missing,” Durham said. “How could you get out the door with a half gallon?”

Durham said the missing inventory list says to him there’s a problem with receipts or a problem with theft. He initially suggested trying to merge with Columbus, which could greatly reduce costs, he said.

But ABC Richard Rardin said he doesn’t see why Columbus would want to merge.

“I don’t honestly see why Columbus would want to merge,” Rardin said. “I don’t see a large bonus for Columbus.”

Martin said it is her understanding that Columbus’ store isn’t making much profit either. According to the Columbus ABC monthly report from September, the Columbus store distributed $500 to the town.

Martin said in order to merge with Columbus, the towns would have to have a contractual agreement and the two towns would appoint two members each to a board. The stores would be operated by both jurisdictions, she said.

Once Tryon ABC board members discovered financials they did not have such as a budget, full inventory of what is in the store and sales receipts, board members seemed to think it’s possible with the right management to continue to run the store.

“This is a management problem,” Durham said. “Simple management. There’s no excuse for this.”

Rardin added that this year’s budget showed a slight profit and said he thinks the ABC board, now that there is a full board, needs to be more on top of the store’s operations.

“I think the store could be made profitable,” said Rardin. “It’s going to depend a lot on who gets hired (to run the store).”

Board member Debra Isabell said she would hate to see another business close in Tryon and feels under the right management it could be profitable.

The board decided to get all the financials it needs and get direction from town council on how the town wants to proceed.

Rardin was appointed earlier this year to the board but there were not enough members to hold meetings. Town council recently appointed Durham and Isabell with last week being their first meeting.

For the time being, Tryon is selling off its ABC store inventory at costs to other stores in order to pay bills. Martin said approximately $2,500 worth of bills has been paid so far through the sell of the inventory.

The ABC board set its next meeting for Monday, Nov. 19 at 5:15 p.m. held at town hall. Town council’s meeting will be Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. at the Tryon Fire Department.




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