Waynesville’s new $1.2 million ABC store opened in October. The bigger store and prime location beside Super Walmart should translate into a boost in sales, according to Earl Clark, chair of Waynesville’s ABC board.
Eventually anyway. For the first two months after making the move, sales were slightly down.
“We knew it wasn’t going to happen instantly. It takes people a little bit of time to find you,” said Joy Rasmus, general manager of the Waynesville ABC store. “Hopefully in six months we will see the difference.”
In fact, sales had already picked back up by December — only its third month in the new location — with $246,200 in total sales compared to $239,480 during December a year ago.
Waynesville’s new stand-alone ABC store sports rock work on the façade, nice landscaping, lots of big windows and a light, airy interior — a polar opposite from the cramped, low-slung, strip-mall quarters of the old location.
“It’s a place you feel comfortable going into,” Clark said.
But Rasmus believes the ace in the hole for the new store will be its location next door to Super Walmart.
“Everybody comes to Walmart,” Rasmus said.
It’s too soon to tell whether December’s increase compared to the previous year was a holiday-related bump. The humdrum winter months of January through March should be telling in whether the new location will indeed attract new clientele from other areas of the county.
So far, however, it doesn’t seem the liquor stores in Canton or Maggie Valley have suffered from the new Waynesville store. Just the opposite, in fact.
The Maggie Valley and Canton ABC stores actually saw an increase in their liquor sales after Waynesville’s new store opened. Liquor sales had been up all year in Maggie and Canton, but the increase was even bigger in October and November.
It’s unclear whether Maggie’s bump is due to the Waynesville move, said Joe Moody, chair of Maggie’s ABC board.
“Certainly the new store they have opened is a really nice store,” Moody said.
But shoppers may have been thrown off their routine, or some might find the new Walmart location less convenient than the old one on the outskirts of downtown, and instead revert to shopping at the stores closer to their own neck of the woods in Maggie or Canton, Moody said.
Profits from the liquor store business go back into town coffers, totalling about $120,000 last year for Waynesville.
The new store will have to do considerably more in sales to offset the higher overhead, however. The new store added two additional part-time employees.
But the biggest additional cost is the monthly payment. The monthly rent on the old store was $2,600. The mortgage on the new store is $6,600. That’s $4,000 a month more the new store must bring in to make the move a wash, let alone reap a benefit.
One reason the payments are so high is the aggressive time line to pay off the construction debt. The mortgage payments are compressed into a 10-year payoff period.
After that, the store will no longer be saddled with mortgage payments taking a bite out of its profits every month.
“The town will see a great increase after that,” said Clark. “I think it is going to be an asset to the town in the long run.”
Of the $1.2 million price tag for the new store, the site beside Walmart cost $500,000. Construction was another $660,000. There were also some incidental expenses to ready the new store — like fleshing out the inventory of liquor.
The roomier store sports more shelf space, but stocking those additional shelves carried an upfront cost. The store ordered an extra $60,000 or so in inventory from the state’s liquor warehouse to round out the merchandise when moving from the old to the new location.
“We didn’t have room at the old store. We about had to get rid of something to add something on,” Rasmus said.
By the numbers
Retail liquor sales compared to same month, previous year
Waynesville ABC store
October: down $12,000
November: down $4,000
December: up $7,000
Canton ABC store
October: up $7,000
November: up $14,000
Maggie ABC stores
October: up $34,000
November: up $32,000