Tryon ABC store’s future at risk

Published 4:45 pm Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Shelves at the Tryon ABC store, which is in danger of closing. (photo by Leah Justice)

After being open since 1951, Tryon’s ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control) store is in jeopardy of closing.
Tryon Town Manager Justin Hembree Tuesday, March 15 told town council revenues are declining.
ABC store manager Susan Blanton recently resigned because she was moving out of the area and an interim manager has been hired, Hembree said. Blanton did a great job over the past nine years keeping the books in order, Hembree said, but declining sales have caused the store to operate at a deficit.
Hembree said the store has gone into reserves and there was concern recently that the store should close immediately. Hembree said he met with Blanton and the ABC board and they decided now is not the appropriate time to close.
Revenues and operations need to be seriously looked at, Hembree said, and there is a possibility some changes can be made to operations, staffing and inventory to help save on costs.
According to recent audit reports, the store operated at a profit of more than $14,000 in fiscal year end 2008. Fiscal year 2009 saw a net loss of more than $9,000 and 2010 ended with a net loss of more than $1,000.
“The ABC board and former general manager have held expenses under control,” said Tryon’s accountant William Crook, CPA, PA. “However, sales have dropped as a result of the reopening of the liquor store just over the state line and the loss of a number of restaurants serving mixed beverages.”
Crook also said the cost structure of a single store supporting administrative overhead, such as paying for an audit and general manager that in other places are supported by multiple stores, “is very difficult to sustain.”
“Combined with declining sales, the results are annual losses that have consumed capital,” Crook said. “This is not sustainable in the long run without support from the governing body.”
Council appointed Hembree to fill a vacant spot on the ABC store board on an interim basis. Hembree will serve as the board’s chair for the next six months. Council will review the store’s situation in about six months to determine whether it will continue to operate.
Tryon held a town-wide election on Oct. 2, 1951 in order to open the town-operated ABC store, which is run by a three-member volunteer board. The store keeps 20 percent of net profits; profits above that are distributed to the town (70 percent) and Harmon Field (30 percent).

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