Alcohol store owners brace for impact after alcohol vote

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Reporter - Jason Hibbs
Photojournalist - Mason Watkins

HENRY COUNTY, Tenn. — Last week, voters in Murray, Kentucky decided to go wet, legalizing the sale of alcohol citywide.

While this means new liquor stores and bars are sure to pop up, neighboring Henry County businesses that count on out-of-town customers know their future could be grim.

The owner of Mac's South Of-The Border beer store in Puryear, Tennessee, about ten miles from Murray, said 95 percent of his customers are people from Murray.

The owner knows those days are ending and quickly.

When traveling South from Murray, it's the first stop for beer.

Store owner Mac Gore knew this would be the perfect place to make a profit 21 years ago.

"I figured I would do okay but I had no idea I'd do as well as I have," Gore said.

But all good things must come to an end.

"Too much real estate between here and there just to get packaged beer," Gore said.

Gore said 95 percent of his customers are from Murray.

"Good people in Murray, some of the best," he said.

Even his best, most loyal customers, likely won't make the 10-mile trek to his store.

"They might stop in every once in a while if they're passing by," he said.

As much as customer Amanda Causey loves the people at Mac's, she admitted she'll stop driving the distance as soon as Murray goes wet.

"I hate to say it because they have been great," Causey said.

The Murray city clerk said before anyone opens a bar or packaged liquor store in Murray, they'll have to apply for a liquor license, a process that will take several months.

After that, Gore anticipates laying off some of his workers and said he's ready to retire.

"There comes a time when you need to quit anyway, no matter what you're doing," Gore said.

The Murray clerk said for the next 60 days, the city council will decide what fees to charge liquor licensees, then mid September, they'll put an ad in the paper with instructions for people who want to apply.

She said it will likely be two to three months after that when stores open up.

So, we're looking at four to five months before you see stores pop up.

Local 6 also spoke with the city manager in Paris, Tennessee. That's where you'll find the nearest liquor store south of Murray.

He said alcohol sales generate $815,000 each year for his city. They're not sure how drastic those numbers will change.

Gore said he'll wait and see exactly what happens to his business before he makes a decision on the store's fate.

He said he really doesn't want to sell the store but is considering renting the facility to anyone willing to run it.

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