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Tryon commissioners express doubt ABC store can reopen

Published 10:00pm Thursday, January 17, 2013

Store considers loan to reopen

Town of Tryon Commissioners changed their tune this week on whether or not its ABC store can reopen and generate a profit.

The store was closed in September and remains closed while the ABC board works out a plan of how to reopen.

In the meantime, the landlord has given a break on the rent to $1,000 a month and the board is selling its inventory in order to pay bills.

Tryon Town Council met Tuesday, Jan. 15 and heard an update on the store from town manager Caitlin Martin. Martin said the ABC board has discussed the possibility of acquiring a loan or line of credit in order to reopen. Martin also said last week the store sold $17,000 worth of stock to an Asheville store.

The store at one time owed approximately $30,000 worth of bills, according to Martin, but currently owes approximately $8,000.

Martin said the state ABC commission had recommended that the store sell everything in the store in order to pay bills. She also said the state commission has recommended it will take $20,000 in order to reopen the store.

Commissioner Roy Miller asked if the store is asking the town for any funding. Martin said that the ABC board is not seeking money from the town and realizes the separation between the store and the town.

“We’ve already lost $10,000,” said Mayor Alan Peoples. “I’m afraid I think we need to close it. I don’t think we can make anything off of it.”

Commissioner George Baker agreed and said he just doesn’t see how the store is going to pay for itself.

Martin said ABC board member Dennis Durham, who is a former town commissioner, is putting together a budget to see if the store can be profitable.

Some of the questions remaining are whether a loan can be obtained by the store and the terms of the lease of the building.

The lease has not been renewed and is not up until March 2016.

Council members also asked whether the town could recoup money it granted the store last year if the sale of inventory pays the store’s bills with money left over.

“If they sell enough to pay off the debt, I want our $10,000 back,” Peoples said.

The ABC store was closed by the town and state ABC commission in September 2012 pending an audit and inventory of the store. The inventory discovered that approximately $3,000 worth of liquor was missing. The ABC board began meeting to figure out if the store could be profitable. The state ABC commission recommended that the town either merge the store with Columbus or close due to lack of revenue over the past several years.

The Columbus ABC board was approached and said it had no interest in merging with Tryon at this time.

Peoples said looking at the town’s budgets from the 1970s, the town’s ABC store was clearing $275,000 a year, but that was when Tryon was the only store around prior to Columbus and Landrum having ABC stores.

He said when he was first elected mayor the ABC store was making about $20,000 a year. Then last year, he said, the town gave the store $10,000 to make it.

Miller said he thinks there’s some variables, including with management and is curious to see what ideas Durham will bring to the town.

“If he can’t do it, I don’t think it can be done,” said Peoples.

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