ABC system not opening more new stores

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
A three-year store-opening spree by the the Rowan-Kannapolis ABC system is at an end.
“We’re not going to open any more stores,” Gus Andrews declared Monday evening. Andrews, a member of the Rowan-Kannapolis Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, joked that he wasn’t sure he would ever hear Chairman Marney Hendrick admit the growth spurt is over.
Hendrick said he doesn’t expect to open more stores.
Since legislation was approved in 2005 that allowed a merged Rowan-Kannapolis system, three new liquor stores have opened in Kannapolis.
All three are in leased buildings, but the system has spent more than $300,000 renovating and leasing the facilities.
The system once had six stores ó two in Salisbury and one each in China Grove, Spencer, Rockwell and Kannapolis. It now has four stores in Kannapolis, two in Salisbury and one in Rockwell.
The discussion about the growth came as board members discussed what to do with $101,000 unspent from a $400,000 loan to consolidate debt and pay for the new stores.
Julie Eller, controller for the system, urged the board to use the money to pay down the loan.
Eller noted that by paying off the long-term debt, the ABC system will be able to give more money to the county for distribution.
The board agreed with Eller’s recommendation.
Eller also recommended using most or all of $115,000 on a certificate of deposit to pay on the loan.
Hendrick suggested the board wait until General Manager Terry Osborne returns to work and get his input.
Osborne is out recuperating from knee surgery.
The board also:
– Agreed to look at spreading the system’s cash to more banks to avoid having more than the $250,000 guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in any one account.
Board members lauded F&M Bank and expressed confidence in the the bank, but agreed to move a $116,000 certificate of deposit to another bank to avoid topping the FDIC limit.
“We need our eggs dispersed,” said Hendrick. “F&M is great, but these are not normal times.”
– Debated the system closing policy for upcoming holidays.
Eller noted the system has been closed for two days at Christmas ó typically Christmas and the day afteró for three out of the past six years.
The two-day closure caught Hendrick and other board members by surprise.
Hendrick said he couldn’t see closing more than the state ABC system requires.
After extensive discussion, the board agreed to limit the Christmas closing to one day and agreed to close all stores at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Eve, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
– Agreed to sign letters of separation for five law enforcement officers carried on the system’s law enforcement rolls.
Hendrick said it’s a necessary bit of housekeeping since the system contracted with N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement to handle education and enforcement.
Hendrick said he has been assured the officers have been contacted previously and all badges and other ABC materials have been returned.
Roy Purvis, a retired deputy sheriff, will be the only official ABC law enforcement employee. He is in charge of store security.
By continuing with the ABC enforcement, the system will continue to qualify for federal seizure funds.
Hendrick said he plans to meet with Purvis and Jerry Dean, the ALE agent assigned to Rowan County, and coordinate responsibilities.
– Briefly discussed the increasing number of emergency weekend pick-ups by liquor-by-the-drink customers at the ABC store on Jake Alexander Boulevard.
The increase is putting a strain on the staff.
The board agreed to let Osborne handle the problem, including possibly setting new hours or requirements.