Amid an ongoing shortage, buyers look to the web for liquor (shh!)
If you’re looking to stock the bar for your holiday party, you might have difficulty finding the items you want. Some bottles of liquor are still hard to find in North Carolina ABC stores as a shortage drags on. That’s spurring some buyers to take an alternative approach to getting the booze they want: buying it online. There’s just one problem. It’s illegal to have liquor shipped to homes in North Carolina.
In this week's BizWorthy, Tony Mecia of the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter talks with WFAE's "Morning Edition" host Marshall Terry about how some online outlets still are shipping liquor and some homes are still accepting them — with no repercussions.
To listen to the full conversation, click the audio above.
"The way these online liquor companies work is — see if you can get your head around this — you go on to a website, you put in what you want. You enter your credit card number and your address. You click 'order' and it shows up at your house within a week or two, in many cases," Mecia said. "Now, that's illegal in North Carolina to have it shipped by mail to your house because North Carolina is a control state where the state controls the distribution of liquor."
Mecia checked out a the site for a company called Caskers, which says it will ship to North Carolina.
"It has more than a thousand different brands able to be shipped to North Carolina, according to the website," Mecia said. "We were unable to connect with anybody from the company, but they're certainly shipping liquor all over the place."
Mecia says it should be a misdemeanor for someone to ship liquor directly to a person's home, but a spokesperson for Alcohol Law Enforcement, ALE, said it's not an area of focus.
"ALE told me their focus is mostly on people in the state, people who have liquor permits, and they're trying to make sure that those permit-holders abide by the restrictions," Mecia said. "So it doesn't seem like it's a huge priority to try to crack down on out-of-state liquor shippers."
Other topics discussed in BizWorthy:
Mecklenburg County's ABC board says liquor supplies are improving. The organization has hired more people to work in the warehouse and a truck to help with distribution. But it still will take time to replenish empty shelves.
"The other problem that they have is the supplies are so depleted that even if they have the same level of bottles coming into the stores that they did before, the shelves are still empty because they may need to replenish fully rather than just sort of topping off, so to speak," Mecia said.
Part of the state budget that the General Assembly passed last month and that Gov. Roy Cooper signed included the creation of a $500 million fund to go toward the hospitality industry, including bars, restaurants and hotels.
"As you might recall, you couldn't go inside a restaurant for a number of months, and it took months to come back to get to that point (of full dining rooms)," Mecia said. "So while at the same time they still had expenses, they still had to pay rent. So it was not a good time for restaurants. And so this is just an attempt to try to help them out."
Belk is adopting a new buy now, pay later system called AfterPay. It might not be as good as it seems, though.
"The problem is, some consumer advocates say that it's really not as regulated as it should be, that it's sort of akin to using a credit card in the sense that consumers might not understand exactly how steep the fees are if they don't make those payments on time," Mecia said.
Listen to the full conversation by clicking the audio above.