Lake Norman & Mooresville

Troutman board moving slowly on ABC store plan

Any Troutman-area consumers waiting to purchase spirits from a new ABC store may get very thirsty first. The Town Board is proceeding with caution while they decide how to structure their new facility.

“The voters clearly said they wanted an ABC store,” said Town Manager Ann Bailie, referring to the 64 percent approval from November’s referendum. “Now we have to figure out the best way to get one.”

At the top of the decision-making list is whether the town should establish their own ABC Board or partner with Statesville or Mooresville, both of whom run successful ABC ventures.

Bailie said Statesville’s ABC Board has indicated interest in running a Troutman store, but that she needed to also discuss the issue with Mooresville.

In either case, Mayor Elbert Richardson expects it will take “at least two to three years” before the store could turn a profit. That was also confirmed by Laurie Lee, director of the pricing division and ABC board audits for the North Carolina ABC Commission. Lee met with the Town Board in January.

A new ABC store normally will not make a profit until its third year of operation, Lee said. She estimated a cost of $100,000 to stock a new store, with another $100,000 to prepare an adequate space with a minimum of 2,500 square feet and $50,000 for initial payroll and other expenses.

“In merging with an existing operation, there are benefits to both parties, which include significant cost savings in start-up and operating expenses,” Lee said. “On the other hand, if Troutman planned to appoint its own ABC Board, I would suggest that a feasibility study be conducted first to determine if their own ABC Store would be practical, profitable and successful.”

Lee also said that any proposed location would have to be approved by the state ABC commission, followed by the submission of a business plan and the securing of necessary funding.

“If we decide to partner with one of our neighbors,” said Troutman board member Paul Henkel, “then I would want Troutman residents and officials there every step of the way to make sure our interests are protected.”

The town board members also want to hear what Mooresville has to say concerning a partnership before deciding on which way to go. Bailie said she and Richardson would set up a meeting with Mooresville and report to the full board at their March meeting.

The Statesville ABC Board operates two stores in Statesville while the Mooresville ABC Board oversees three in Mooresville.

Dave Vieser is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Dave? Email him at davidvieser@gmail.com.

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