PEMBROKE — Pembroke residents will no longer have to travel out of town to buy a bottle of liquor.
The town’s ABC store was open for business Saturday for the first time in more than four years, having been closed in the fall of 2008 because of mismanagement and missing money and inventory. According to Loretta Smith, chairwoman of the Pembroke ABC Board, the store at 120 Vance St. will be more customer-friendly with a new self-service layout.
The ABC Board received approval from the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission in February to re-open the 1,300-square-foot store. The remodeling of the store’s interior cost about $250,000, and includes new surveillance equipment.
Smith said the business will employ two full-time employees and four part-time staff. The store’s hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
“As our business grows and the profit margin becomes bigger, we’re hoping to employ more people and offer benefits to our employees,” Smith said.
Store Manager Janice Hunt said she expects the business to exceed $650,000 in sales during the first year. Any profit will go to the town and county governments.
“Local town residents, local businesses and also the university will be our customer base … ,” Hunt said.
She added that Pembroke residents have been traveling to ABC stores in Lumberton, Maxton and Rowland to purchase alcohol, an inconvenience that also denied the town revenue from the store’s profits.
On Saturday, the first 200 customers were given free hot dogs and soft drinks.
“Business has been picking up since we opened,” Hunt said. “… the university is having their graduation today so it should be a busy day.”
Smith said she is grateful for the help offered by Pembroke police and town staff in getting the business back open.
“There are a lot of people to give credit to,” Smith said. “Our town government has also been really supportive in getting the store opened back up … .”
Town Manager Oryan Lowry said he is appreciative of the work by Smith and the ABC Board.
“I also want to acknowledge the efforts of the prior ABC Board,” Lowry said. “Josh Malcolm, Myron Nevell, John Campbell and an intern from The University of North Carolina at Pembroke — they did a lot of work.”
Lowry said he was unsure how much revenue the town would earn from the ABC store because of the discrepancies in the operating revenue reports given to the town before the store was closed. He said he would like to see the ABC Board provide the Town Council with a monthly revenue report.
“Hopefully we can move forward and do it right now,” he said.