Tryon ABC store six months behind on rent

Published 3:00 pm Friday, February 1, 2013

Store unable to obtain loan to reopen

While Tryon officials try to decide the future of its ABC store, bills are continuing, including the store being behind six months on rent.

The ABC board recently updated town council that it would try to get a loan to reopen the store, but discovered due to the store being owned by the town, the store itself cannot obtain a loan.

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The town and the state closed the store in September to conduct an audit and inventory of the store. The store has not paid rent since, with the rent accumulating from September through February.

The inventory discovered approximately $3,000 worth of liquor missing from the store and the state recommended that Tryon either merge with Columbus or close the store due to lack of revenue over the past several years. Columbus declined on merging.

The ABC store has since been selling stock in order to pay bills.

The store recently sold 1,946 bottles of liquor to Asheville and made $17,168, but paid $12,337 in liquor bills, according to information provided by Betty Hendren, who is the finance officer for the Forest City ABC store and was recommended to Tryon by the state ABC commission to help sort bills. The liquor bills are currently paid, but rent and monthly utilities are still accumulating.

As of Jan. 1, the store owed $5,250 in rent, based on the landlord giving a break on the rent to $1,000 per month recently. The lease includes $1,200 a month rent and a 5 percent late fee penalty. The lease is not up until March 2016 as the town signed a 10-year lease when it relocated the store from its former downtown location to its current 354 S. Trade Street location.

The store also owes the August 2012 spirituous liquor tax in the amount of $5,457, according to Hendren, who said she is trying to see if penalties can be abated.

In the meantime, the store is still looking to sell the remainder of its inventory.

Stock value of the products remaining in the store is $29,083 in liquor and $1,288 in wine for a total of $30,438 potentially left to sell. That value will change this month due to a new price book being issued. North Carolina liquor store prices are based on the state ABC commission.

ABC store officials are currently in discussions with stores in Rutherfordton and Forest City about selling stock to them and other areas are being contacted to see if they are interested in purchasing wine and liquor from Tryon’s store.

During town council’s last meeting on Jan. 15, council members expressed concern over whether or not the store could reopen and make it financially if it does reopen. Some have discussed getting out of the current lease and trying to find a less expensive location. Others expressed doubt the store can make a profit.

Tryon has struggled with its ABC store making profit for several years, although at during the 1970s, the store profited approximately $275,000 a year. Other stores opening in the area have slowly caused the store to not profit. Last year the town gave the store $10,000 to pay bills and council has also expressed concern over whether or not the store can pay that money back the town.

Tryon council has not met since it was discovered the ABC store cannot obtain a loan. Council’s next meeting is Feb. 19.

The ABC board’s next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 6.