North Carolina feeling effects from nationwide liquor shortage

North Carolina

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — If you can’t find your favorite adult beverage at the local bar, it could be because of the nationwide liquor shortage.

“Break supply chains, shut them down for a year and then come back with this pent-up demand, it was bound to happen,” said Rob Waldron, the owner of Club 519 in Greenville.

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Restaurant and bar owners in Eastern North Carolina are beginning to feel the effects of the nationwide liquor shortage. That includes Waldron.

“Some is readily available,” he said. “Some of its out one week, here the next. I will say, a lot of the cheaper stuff, the cordials and flavored type liqueurs that are used for mixing, a lot of those are the ones that we find missing mostly.”

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Waldron isn’t the only one. Tandi Wilson owns two popular restaurants in Greenville, Christy’s Euro Pub and Dickinson Avenue Public House. Wilson said she’s having trouble finding bottom-shelf liquor.

“Now, we’re seeing a shortage in some of the lower-end tequilas and vodkas where the liquor store is out of the brand we get,” said Wilson.

Wilson said most of the time she can get something comparable, but sometimes it costs her.

“Sometimes it’s actually a higher price and as restaurants, we automatically pay $3.75 extra per bottle on top of those price increases because of the ABC tax,” she said.

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What’s to blame for the lack of booze? There are several theories.

There’s a glass shortage that’s affecting the bottling process for some companies. There’s also a labor shortage.

“Everybody has been having problems across the board and you do see that trickle down,” said Wilson.

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That lack of workers is very clear to Wilson.

“The plants just don’t have enough people to fill the orders,” she said. “In turn, they don’t have enough drivers to drive the orders. So it’s chicken wings. It’s beef products. It’s liquor. The nationwide worker shortage is a huge impact.”

Owners are hopeful things will get back to normal quickly, but they expect it will get worse before it gets better.

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – If you’ve been looking for Tito’s or tequila in North Carolina, you may have noticed that some liquor stores shelves are a little skimpy.

Many stores are experiencing a nationwide shortage of liquor.

But Drew Podrebarac, the owner of Southern Spirits, said across the border in South Carolina, currently, they’re fully stocked.

“Definitely in North Carolina, just because the way they do their liquor, I know they’ve had tons of problems but that’s part of the reason that they come to South Carolina to buy the liquor,” said Podrebarac.

One place they stop at is Southern Spirits, what Podrebarac and his staff call “Charlotte’s best-kept secret”.

“Right now, North Carolina currently has about 500-700 available liquors in stock. We currently have at Southern Spirits almost 6,000 different liquors, so when people actually say, ‘Wow, there’s a lot more available,’ people just kept coming and started telling their friends and it definitely boosted sales and customer numbers,” said Podrebarac. 

Podrebarac said it’s all thanks to his customers and “some of the best managers.”

“Currently we’re fully stocked, and everything is really solid,” he said. 

One of his liquor buyers Keith Haze said it’s not just Tito’s and tequila, but there are shortages of a lot of other spirits as well.

“We’ve never seen anything like this,” Haze said. Just to give you a most recent example, I turned in a purchase order of 42 items 27 of them were out of stock. This is all new, I’ve been doing this for 18 years and there have been shortages of an item but not situations in every category basically.”

That forces customers to have to decide. 

“Most customers are willing to purchase substitutes but people that are looking for. If someone is very particular about their brand, very brand loyal, like with Tito’s then they will go and search somewhere else,” Haze said in a phone interview with FOX 46. 

That even translates to their wholesale sales to local restaurants.

“It affects them because they are required to buy liters, it’s a law, and sometimes there aren’t liters. and sometimes there are liters and fifths and it’s illegal for them to buy a 1.75 so they’re forced to adopt other brands,” he said. “Then you would need a bartender to convince the customer ‘no no no El Tesoro is far superior’ but if someone is just there shrugging then they may buy a drink at all. “

Haze said the liquor shortage is only the tip of the iceberg and the entire liquor business is experiencing shortages in every aspect.

“Booze like everything else is an ecosystem. There are not enough truck drivers, there are not enough warehouse employers, there’s not enough glass, the docks are backed up on the west coast, so you’re having issues getting things in from other countries,” Haze added. “Then you have record sales where there’s a greater demand and a smaller supply.”

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