CLAY COUNTY, NC: With hopes for finding ways to make money in tight times, former music professor and Presbyterian minister Bert Wiley sides with a majority of voters in a referendum this week that would allow the sale of beer, wine, and spirits in the formerly dry NC county. Wiley says this is necessary, in spite of the fact that he’s never had a drink in his life.
“The county needed the revenue,” Wiley told the Asheville Citizen Times. “I know the disagreement on this. But this situation is not a moral issue. It is a financial issue.
Wiley also says “the people who wanted to have alcohol in the county were not trying to convince people to drink. They wanted it available in the county.” As a Western North Carolina resident, I must say that I make an effort to discuss this with several ABC store owners and other spirit vendors. Michael Dyer, manager of the Black Mountain liquor store in Black Mountain, NC, says that overall sales have been good this year, with sales at the beginning of the year overtaking previous records that coincided with New Year celebrations. Similarly, employees at the Tunnel Road ABC store in Asheville, NC, recently told Culture of Spirits that “sales are good. Of course, the liquor business is hardly ever bad.”
Perhaps the wild proposition being presented by the Presbyterian Wiley isn’t so wiley after all… if anything, it presents a sound, fiscally-minded approach that may help aid state and county revenues in Western North Carolina.
The county government stands to make hundreds of thousands of dollars in excise revenue if trends in neighboring counties play out.