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Interstate closures blamed for lower liquor revenue, business still good

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By Beth Braden

Caryville can thank the town’s two liquor stores for helping to line the coffers, but store owners say sales could have been even better had the interstate not been closed due to last spring’s landslide.

“We didn’t experience the sale that we thought we would have just because the interstate was shut down for so long up on the mountain,” said John Davenport, owner of the Liquor Barn off exit 134.

Between March and September, Caryville received $105,003 of tax money from the sale of liquor, an average of $15,000 per month.

Mark Hoskins, owner of 141 Wine and Spirits, described days after the spring landslide in which even the Pilot station across the street was deserted. Now that I-75 has reopened, he has another obstacle: Corbin, Ky., just approved the sale of packaged liquor.

“Corbin has voted in packaged liquor and they opened their store last month, so we don’t know the effect of that is,” he said.

Both store owners say revenues have dropped off a little bit now that it’s the off-season at Norris Lake, but shoppers are expected to trickle in with the approaching holiday season.

 “We’re back even where we were last year on a monthly basis, so I think we’ll do fine through the holidays,” Hoskins said.

Davenport has some marketing events planned as the year winds down, including a wine tasting to draw in more customers.

“The next thing we’ll have is some wine tasting for the holidays,” he said.

141 Wine and Spirits has been open for 16 months. The Liquor Barn just celebrated its one-year anniversary on Oct. 1.