New ABC Store Opens

Published 5:01 pm Thursday, March 28, 2013

CUMBERLAND – “It took a long time to get one in Cumberland County,” Chairman of the Cumberland Board of Supervisors David Meinhard, District Four, said during the grand opening of the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) store this past Tuesday.

The ABC's 341st store is now open for business at 1592 Anderson Highway, next to Dixie Dream Ice Cream.

Officials from Cumberland County and ABC were in attendance at the grand opening Tuesday morning, March 26. Meinhard told The Herald that he's glad to see it, adding, “We got something here, which we didn't have before.”

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In a press release, ABC described their presence in the area as a donut, “with a store-less Cumberland in the center surrounded by an outer radius of stores in surrounding counties.” The nearest ABC store to this location is in Dillwyn, 15 miles away.

ABC Board Chairman Neal Insley explained that, like any other major retailer, ABC uses a scientific process involving computer programs to analyze data. Information collected by sales clerks in other locations, such as customer zip codes, is used to help verify need as well. Finally, public safety and enforcement are also considered when choosing a location, he added.

“Once we come to a community, we are invested in that community. We stay involved and we try to support and be good members of that business community,” Insley concluded.

The press release states that the current store is the “agency's direct response to a request from Cumberland County's director of economic development who approached ABC officials in 2011 with a desire to bring an ABC store to the county.”

Susan Johnson, associate director of property management services, explained during Tuesday's grand opening that, in the past, ABC had considered having a store in Cumberland, but had decided there was not a large enough population in the county. It was only after receiving comment cards and being directly contacted by Cumberland's director of economic development that ABC started the process of locating a site for the store.

During a Cumberland Board of Supervisors meeting marked by discussion regarding the then planned ABC store last May, several people spoke during public comment in opposition to the ABC store, according to a report by The Herald.

During that meeting, Supervisor Kevin Ingle, District Three, stated that he had asked the development director to make the request for an ABC store.

Ingle was also present during the grand opening and again expressed his support of the ABC store: “I love to see a new business open, something that has been on the mind of the community for many years.

“I think that it is going to be an asset and am very happy to see any new business open in the county. And it is a justifiable one, controlled by the state, so I really feel that it's all going to be good in the county.”

The store has brought three new part-time jobs to the county and may bring more down the road. Two of the three employees working at the store are Cumberland residents, according to Regional Manager Levi Heaton. Wilson Jones, director of retail operations, says “as business grows, then there will be an increase in allocation of hours, which will allow us to hire… more people.”

Currently, the store has a remote manager from Dillwyn.

ABC is renting from Randal Daves, who built the store for ABC. During the grand opening, several ABC officials commented on how beautiful the new store was.

Spokesperson Carol Mawyer stated that “the store is smaller than the average store, but it's got some very nice amenities” that are not common in other ABC stores. She pointed out that Daves added several features during the construction of the store, including recessed lighting and wood flooring.

Virginia ABC currently has a 10-year lease on the building, with an option for an additional five years, according to the press release.

Mawyer stated that the County will not receive any revenue from the store. “Local counties or local jurisdictions do not receive tax revenue. This was passed by the General Assembly back in the 90s when they decided to tax spirits.”

Although the County will not receive any sales tax from the ABC store, it will receive revenue from the real estate tax on the property.

During last May's meeting, then Community and Economic Developer Greg Baka had also explained that the new business could provide some “spill over” business to other establishments.

The store is currently stocked with 641 items, according to the ABC press release, and “the assortment is mainly top sellers, heavy in Bourbon and Vodka, which is normal in Virginia.”

However, the store's stock will not necessarily be static. “We're eager to welcome customers, answer their questions, fulfill special requests and, ultimately, adjust the store's product mix to accommodate their tastes,” said Jones.

There are only ten other sources licensed to sell alcohol in Cumberland County, according to the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control's 2012 annual report. Six gas stations and two “grocery stores” (Bear Creek Market and Stop In Food Stores) are licensed to sell beer and wine off-premise. Cumberland Restaurant and Vito's Italian Restaurant are licensed to sell beer and wine on-premise.

The ABC's mission is “To control the distribution of alcoholic beverages; operate efficient, conveniently located retail outlets; enforce the laws of the Commonwealth pertaining to alcoholic beverages and youth access to tobacco products; and provide excellent customer service, a reliable source of revenue, and effective public safety.”

During the past fiscal year, ABC operations returned record profits of $132 million to the Commonwealth of Virginia, according to their annual report. Of that amount, $65.4 million was given to the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services “incurred for care, treatment, study and rehabilitation of alcoholics,” the report stated. Most of the remainder was distributed to the Commonwealth's General Fund in accordance with the Code of Virginia.