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Each week, WFAE's "Morning Edition" hosts get a rundown of the biggest business and development stories from The Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter.

Finding premium bourbons in NC could get easier

Adam Wilson

Getting your hands on some hard-to-find bourbons in North Carolina could soon be easier.

Ahead of the two-year state legislative session that began Wednesday, a spokesman for the state ABC Commission told the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter the distribution of high-end bourbons is a major focus, since there is not enough supply of certain brands. Senate Leader Phil Berger also addressed the issue during a preview of the legislative session on Monday.

For more, we turn now to the Ledger's Tony Mecia for our segment BizWorthy.

Marshall Terry: Alright Tony, what did Berger say exactly about this?

Tony Mecia: Well, Marshall, this is all in the context of Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore, who came to Charlotte on Monday, gave a presentation at the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance and then took questions from reporters.

I took the opportunity to ask about ABC privatization because, as we know, the ABC stores have had some trouble keeping liquor on the shelves. And Berger told me that he thinks they're not going to do that this session. That they've looked at it, it's too heavy of a lift, that a lot of local charities and governments benefit from the liquor taxes, from ABC. So privatization is not really on the table.

But then he volunteered that what he's heard a lot from other senators is that they have concerns about how the state distributes some of these hard-to-find bourbons. And so, you know, there are bourbons like Stagg, Blanton's, Buffalo Trace where they just don't have a lot of shipments of those coming into the state. They're very hard to find. It has nothing to do with these distribution troubles. It's just they're premium small-batch bourbons. And so he said that is something that he expects maybe some members will want to talk about and do something on.

Terry: Did he say at all what they might do about it?

Mecia: Well, he didn't give a lot of specifics. He just said that's been sort of an area of concern. And I talked to the ABC commission spokesman afterward who said that this is something that they talk about regularly at the ABC Commission.

You know, how to distribute these among the state's 171 ABC boards. And because a lot of times they'll get fewer than 171 cases. And it isn't really fair to send one case to Mecklenburg, which is a giant ABC system, and one to say a smaller rural county with maybe just one or two ABC stores. And so they said they try and balance it out, try and make it equitable and fair, give everybody an opportunity. But some of these bourbons are in high demand and there's not a lot of supply. And so, you know, that might be something that legislators are going to take a look at.

Terry: Alright, moving on now. The Ledger reports Costco may be building a warehouse on Lancaster Highway in Indianland. Costco is one of those stores some people are fanatics for, but there's also opposition to this location. So what's driving that?

Mecia: Yeah, a lot of interest in this Costco. I think it's maybe not quite at Wegman's levels, but Costco has turned in some planning documents to Lancaster County, South Carolina, that suggests that it's looking at a 151,000-square-foot warehouse club south of Possum Hollow Road along US-521 Lancaster Highway.

A lot of people really like that idea and like the idea of being able to buy vats of mayonnaise, huge vats of peanut butter, mega-size boxes of Cheerios, that kind of thing. But it is also stirring some opposition. People say the traffic is bad enough already. Why can't we use that land for more schools? So the traditional sort of problems with growth, I think that people are associating with the potential for a popular Costco.

Terry: Switching over to the business of e-books now, the Ledger this week reports the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library is seeing a surge in e-book usage. Now, is that related to the pandemic and folks not wanting to come into a branch and be around people?

Mecia: Well, I think that might be part of it. But there's also this longer-term trend, I think, as we all know, towards things that are more digital, you know, reading on a Kindle or reading on your phone, that sort of thing. We at the Ledger looked at some of the numbers and you know, that the library put out and this is a little bit surprising among bestsellers.

Bestsellers are much more often read digitally than in print. So the library says that, for example, the mystery "The Last Thing He Told Me," which was its top circulating title in print and digital. That it had about 1,300 print circulations last year, but 5,000 digital downloads. So that's about almost 4-1 digital over print at the library for some of these bestsellers.

So it's really interesting for libraries. It's not like you and me, Marshall, where if we buy a digital version of something, maybe it's $12.99. The library has to license those titles. So something that might cost us, you know, $12 or $13 is costing the library maybe $50 or $60 for a two-year license. So it is a little more maybe expensive for libraries, but it's also a little more efficient to do it that way.

Terry: Alright. Well, let's end on an update to a story that we talked about last year. Longtime home decor store Blacklion is soon to close its location in Pineville. And you found out what's going in its place. So what is it?

Mecia: Blacklion, a pretty popular home decor store down there in the Pineville area, it's closing and it's really being turned into a sort of medical office usage. Maybe not a surprise, it's across the street from Atrium Health Pineville. It was announced last week that the adult care facility, Gracious Living, is going to be opening a site there.

This goes alongside other previously announced medical type of uses. There's an office of Tryon Medical that's going in there, Oncology Specialist of the Carolinas and a dentist's office. So it's becoming really one of those medical clusters down there around Pineville.

Terry: Alright Tony, well, thank you.

Mecia: Thanks, Marshall.

Terry: That's Tony Mecia of the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter.

Support for WFAE's BizWorthy comes from UNC Charlotte's Belk College of Business, Sharonview Federal Credit Union and our listeners.

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Marshall came to WFAE after graduating from Appalachian State University, where he worked at the campus radio station and earned a degree in communication. Outside of radio, he loves listening to music and going to see bands - preferably in small, dingy clubs.