Closing the Tab
POSTED: Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - 8:50am
UPDATED: Friday, July 25, 2014 - 7:05am
SPECIAL REPORT: Life after the end of prohibition in Tyler and other parts of Smith County
Tyler, Texas (KETK) — Voters in May of 2012 put an end to prohibition in Tyler and other parts of Smith County and the sale of beer and wine in grocery stores and gas stations has impacted tax revenue in a major way but, it has also impacted the economy in surrounding areas forcing small businesses to close, and other locations to do whatever it takes to keep customers coming through their doors.
Since 2012, estimated tax revenue for the city of Tyler has climbed 10 percent since the sale of alcohol within city limits. Keidric Trimble, Chief Financial officer for the City of Tyler says, “We're estimating maybe between 35 and 40 thousand per month.” Now, everyone wants a piece of the pie. Petitions are circulating the Lindale area to get beer and wine sales on the ballot for the upcoming November elections.
"In our economy here in precinct 5 they are saying that we can bring in 13 million dollars worth of revenue from beer and wine sales a year, so it's a big deal,” Darla Sanders, pro-alcohol sales supporter in Lindale tells KETK news.
However, It's also a big deal for business owners like Marlee Harris, owner of 1-Stop Liquor store, in Winona, "Over half of our business has been cut down." 1-stop was once the only stop for many in Smith County to buy beer and wine. Now, the bulk of their sales come from liquor only. And Harris says the days of constant business are over. Three stores within a mile of one stop have closed their doors since 2012. Harris says she fears for the future of her own business, and others in winona. “I would say any place here is for sale, if anybody wants to buy a liquor store, I would say that people are worried that much,” Harris says.
The beer and wine business is so bad in areas like Winona, Troup, and Coffee City some distributors have cut off deliveries to area stores.
“Aj” owner of AJs Place, a liquor store in Troup says, "We still have liquor, so they keep on coming in to see us on a regular basis." Competitive prices, and a drive thru are keeping sales steady at his store.
However, just down the street, Oasis liquor store is losing 200 thousand dollars a month, according to the owner (who did not want to be on camera). And, Davidson's a few miles south of Oasis only sells beer and wine, yet are still in business, but they too have had to cut back on staff, and stock. "I used to have two maybe three people here at all times, like there was never a time where you were by yourself and now you're by yourself all the time, Manager of Davidson’s, Rachel Reed tells KETK.
Davidson’s went from ordering 160 cases of their best selling beer per week, down to 60. Reed says, they've had to ramp up their marketing to a target audience to keep customer coming in. "They (men) like pretty faces, you know, its all girls (here), I’m not going to try and say that that's not the reason why a lot of people do come in, because it is." Reed says offering free ice and unbeatable service are other advertising tactics to drive sales. Reed says, "If you can get it cheaper somewhere else but you still choose this location, we're doing something right."
But all of the businesses KETK spoke with for this report say, the link that keeps the outliers afloat are —the people.