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ABC Stores Across North Carolina and the High Country Dealing With Liquor Supply Shortages

Empty shelves at the ABC Store in Boone.

By Nathan Ham

If you have ventured into the ABC Store in Boone, you might have noticed some empty shelf space over the last few weeks. It’s an issue that has been plaguing liquor stores all over the state, not just in the High Country. 

“When the truck comes, we’re not really sure what’s going to be on it. We make an order but that’s not to say we are going to get any of it. We try to keep our basics and get them in and hope for the best,” said general manager Ronnie Hayes. 

Most recently, the Boone store has been out of brands like Bacardi, Jack Daniels and Woodford Reserve. 

This has also trickled down to not only the individual customers that come in looking for products but also local restaurants that have to purchase their spirits at the ABC Store. 

“Restaurants have had to adjust what they get and I know that has been hard on them too,” Hayes said. 

Many different reasons for the supply shortages have been given, ranging anywhere from distilleries having problems to warehouse software issues and the lack of truck drivers to transport the finished products. 

According to Bonnie O’Bryan-Betz, the general manager at the ABC Store in Banner Elk, they have not had Ketel One Vodka in close to two months and just got an order of Tito’s Vodka that they had placed four weeks ago. The truck arrived on Monday. 

“We ordered 50 cases of half-gallons and 50 cases of fifths and we were out of the fifths in three days,” she said. “We are definitely going through shortages. We used to get a truck every two weeks so when we only had one truck for a month, it really took our stock down.”

O’Bryan-Betz attributed the supply issues to a combination of factors, mainly supply chain issues due to COVID-19 and a new statewide delivery system that was recently implemented. 

“COVID hit hard, it has affected the glassmaking, lids, and labels, and then we have had trouble planning for the demand and having to deal with getting it shipped,” she said. “I can’t remember what our last total order was, but we got about 800 cases out of the 1,400 that a truck can hold.”

Much like in Boone, the store in Banner Elk has seen a big influx of restaurants trying to keep up with their demand as well. 

“What has happened is everybody is seeing our shelves having less and less product, so when we did get our truck on Monday, the restaurants came in and really started buying,” O’Bryan-Betz said. 

Liquor shortages were first reported in the state around the middle of July when stores around Charlotte and other major metropolitan areas were struggling to get the supplies they needed. Now, almost all of the ABC Stores are feeling some impact trying to re-stock their shelves. 

Photos below were taken at the ABC Store in Banner Elk