First stores see beer and wine sales soar in Sharp County - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

First stores see beer and wine sales soar in Sharp County

SHARP COUNTY, AR (KAIT) – A new chapter has officially begun in Sharp County's history.

The first alcohol has made its way onto store shelves there since voters decided to make the county go ‘wet' on Election Day.

People can now buy beer and wine at two Sharp County stores – the Wal-Mart in Ash Flat and the Rebel Station convenience store in Hardy.

The state Alcoholic Beverage Control board recently issued both stores the appropriate licenses to sell alcohol, which have resulted in a spike in sales.

"This is definitely a good shot in the arm for this time of the year," said Jerry Messer, who owns the Rebel Station.

Messer and his family run the store, which began selling beer last Thursday.

Business has picked up significantly since then, as their store is currently the only one in Hardy allowed to sell alcohol.

People can order a beer or a glass of wine with dinner at the Pig ‘n Whistle, a British-themed restaurant in Hardy, since it recently became a private club.

"We do understand that everybody else is going to receive the same thing once they get their license and start selling," Messer said. "It's going to be a shot in the arm for everybody that wants to sell beer and wine."

Messer began applying for a license to sell beer and wine shortly after Sharp County voters approved the sale of alcohol in November.

He initially feared that his store's proximity to a nearby church would prevent him from selling alcohol.

Regulations state that a convenience store cannot sell alcohol within 350 feet of a church, school or similar facility. The Rebel Station is located more than 600 feet from the church.

With that information in mind, he then decided to continue pursuing the beer and wine license so that he could compete with the two other gas stations in town.

 "The tourists that come in here to float the [Spring River] and stuff, they're going to go where the beer and the gas and the cigarettes are," Messer said. "If you don't sell the beer, they're just not going to stop."

Messer and his wife, Rhonda, fully intended to close their store until they learned the state approved their license two months after they applied for it.

"It was definitely crazy," Rhonda said, describing the first day of sales. "The trucks pulled up wanting to buy right away, and I'm trying to get them into the computer. It was definitely fun, absolutely fun."

That "fun" has hardly subsided, as customers like Harlan Andrews of Horseshoe Bend are still streaming in to buy cases of beer.

"[Sharp County] is going to collect the tax dollars rather than drive people off someplace else," Andrews said, who bought a 30-pack of beer at the Rebel Station Monday.

Just four days into its alcohol sales, the Rebel Station has had to restock Budweiser three times.

The owners will soon make room for wine and wine coolers in their refrigerators, but will have to buy extra coolers to house its soft drinks and water elsewhere.

Copyright 2013 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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