Stores begin process to sell alcohol in Sharp County

SHARP COUNTY, AR (KAIT) – Stores have already started working to get alcohol on their shelves, just one week after voters decided to make Sharp County 'wet' for the first time in decades.

People could begin buying beer and wine at their local convenience store as early as January.

Store owners are wasting little time in requesting applications to get alcohol on their store shelves.

"As soon as we found out that it was a wet county, the next day we called, and they sent us a packet," said Amy Torosyan, the owner of the Red Mule Food Mart in Highland. "Within two days, we had the packet, so we're trying to be on top of it so that we can get it going as quick as we can."

Torosyan is applying for a permit to sell beer and wine through the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Division.

According to administrator Michael Langley, the ABC sent out more than 100 of these applications since Election Day.

Langley says almost all of them went to Sharp, Madison and Benton Counties because voters approved the sale of alcohol in all three areas last Tuesday.

Langley expects his office to be incredibly busy during the next six months.

Not only will his division issue beer permits, but it will also begin the more lengthy process of deciding who can sell hard liquor.

Sharp County can only have four liquor stores because of its small population size. State law requires counties to have one liquor store per 4,000 people, according to Langley.

The Red Mule hopes to secure a retail beer permit by January, as it already plans to convert a room into a "beer cave" for customers.

Torosyan says the new revenue will not just benefit her business but also her county.

"Whoever's going to buy it (alcohol), they're going to buy it," she said, "so why not just do it within your county, within your community and not to give the proceeds or the profits to another state?"

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