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Liquor stores weigh in on talk of business closures

Liquor store

Andy Patel, owner at the Greenwood ABC store on Reynolds Avenue, said liquor stores should be closed, because selling alcohol is not an essential service.

Whether it’s just a nightcap or enough booze to fuel an at-home, social distancing party, the coronavirus pandemic has changed how customers shop for spirits. With bars closed, Greenwood ABC owner Andy Patel said his regular customers are coming into the 1137 Reynolds Ave. liquor store more often.

Panic has led customers to come in more often, buying in larger volumes when they can out of fear that liquor stores will be shut down amid the outbreak. Still, the change in habits haven’t really amounted to a spike in income, Patel said. Because of layoffs and furloughs, some customers just can’t afford to buy.

“We’re not really getting more business, because people don’t have money,” Patel said. “They’re still struggling.”

He admitted alcohol can bring some measure of comfort, enjoyment and relaxation to the tensions running high at this time, but even as a liquor store owner, he said he thinks the state should order the stores closed.

“Opening a business selling booze is not a priority,” he said. “People should be staying at home, taking care of their families.”

At Emerald City Liquors at 1605 S.C. 72, store manager Amanda Goad said there’s an argument to be made for keeping liquor stores open.

There, too, people are buying in larger volumes as Goad said sales were up dramatically at her store.

“I mean, it’s good for business, but it’s bad to see how many people are reliant on alcohol,” she said.

It’s that dependency that she said should keep liquor stores open.

“I know personally from running this store for over a year, there are people who are dependent on it and they’re afraid if liquor stores close they’ll go into withdrawals,” she said. “A lot of people say that’s all they have left to do.”

Goad said she has been sober for 5 years without a drink, but since the coronavirus pandemic hit she’s begun drinking a little again, although she said it’s not to excess.

The same patterns are showing themselves at Brewski Brothers at 1425 Main St. South, said owner Mukesh Desai. Customers have become more aware of the seriousness of COVID-19, and are getting more disciplined in following the preventative guidelines, but panic does keep them coming in and buying more than usual.

Desai had no qualms about his stance: He said he would pick safety over business.

“I’d rather shut down. We should be disciplined and at home,” he said. “People are ignorant, they don’t know if they’re infected and infecting other people. They can be walking around carrying it and innocently infecting others without knowing it.”

Contact staff writer Damian Dominguez at 864-634-7548 or follow on Twitter @IJDDOMINGUEZ.

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