PEMBROKE — The state ABC Commission has given the Pembroke ABC Board permission to reopen its ABC store, and the town has a target date of June. The store has been closed for more than four years.
“We are very enthusiastic and excited due to the fact that after months of hard work our dream is coming true,” said Loretta Smith, chairwoman of the Pembroke ABC Board. “Being able to bring in revenue to Pembroke and Robeson County is amazing.”
The ABC store at 120 Vance St. was closed in October 2008 when an audit showed that tens of thousands of dollars of inventory and money was missing. The Pembroke board recently received a letter of commitment for financing from a bank as well as an appraisal — two hurdles that had to be cleared before the state ABC Commission would give the thumbs up on reopening.
While the store has been closed, Pembroke residents have had to purchase their liquor elsewhere, depriving the town of revenue. According to Laurie Lee, the ABC Commission auditor, the store’s profit — money that remains after expenses and taxes are paid — goes to the town.
“It’s up to the town how they use those funds,” Lee said. “It’s all based off of profit. It’s not a percentage. Until they are up and running we can’t tell you what the amount to the town is going to look like.”
Town Councilman Allen Dial said the town has not established a plan for any revenue from the ABC store.
“There’s a strong possibility we will use some of it for substance-abuse programs such as Palmer Drug as well as others,” Dial said. “But we have not determined where the money will be used. We aren’t short on projects that need money, so I’m sure we’ll find somewhere useful to put it.”
The reopening has been delayed by several factors, including an effort to move the store to a new location.
In an email sent to Smith by Michael Herring, administrator of the ABC Commission, the Pembroke ABC Board was praised for its “hard work and dedication over the last few months.”
“I believe (the board’s effort) has resulted in a solid business plan that should yield a successful ABC store for the citizens of Pembroke,” Herring wrote. “Your business plan along with your proposed business budget complies with the mission statement of local ABC boards … and is hereby approved.”
Smith said there are a few more items on the to-do list that must be completed before the store reopens.
“The renovation of the store still needs to be done,” Smith said. “We also need to hire and train the staff. Lastly, we need to order our inventory. But now that we’re one step closer, we are that much more excited. We can create local jobs and bring yet another small business to Pembroke.”
Smith said the hiring and training of employees will take approximately two months.
People interested in employment at the store can pick up an application at Pembroke Town Hall starting March 1.