Cadiz, KY – It's been about 5 months since Trigg County passed an ordinance to end prohibition. Now, many businesses are applying for various licenses to sell alcohol: nine for retail packaged beer, seven for retail packaged liquor, and one restaurant has applied for liquor by the drink. Chris Taylor speaks to one entrepreneur and his plans to open up shop there.
People in Trigg County have been making the trip to nearby Gracey for years, just past I-24 in Christian County. They often stop by Rips on Tobacco Road for their alcohol needs. Owner Joey Allen plans to employ up to 14 people in Trigg if he's granted licenses to sell. He recently bought a gas station on the corner of Canton and Rock Castle Roads where he plans to open up shop. Allen says the gas station will be like any other Minute Mart and will sell beer.
Allen- And then next door I have applied for a liquor license and I have a contingency on the building that if I get the liquor license I will buy it and put in a package liquor store.
With many businesses gearing up to begin selling alcohol, Trigg County Judge Executive Stan Humphries has appointed local Sheriff's Deputy Jay Geiger to enforce the county's regulations. Geiger heads the newly-created Alcohol Beverage Control Administrator post. He says his local ABC outfit doesn't vet the applications though; licenses are issued through the state office. Exactly when those licenses will be issued is still speculative.
Geiger- I don't have a definite date because it all depends when Frankfort does all the processing; but either the end of this month or the first part of February, licenses will start to appear.
Geiger says of the seven applicants attempting to sell packaged liquor in Trigg, only five will be granted, that number is determined by the county's population size.
Geiger- They're going to pick the five that they think are the most qualified and geographically in good location. You wouldn't want to have five licenses issued in a county and have all five in one city block.
ABC officials may have to resolve just that. A few applicants are competing over some of Trigg's more trafficked thoroughfares, with some applying at addresses just across the street from one another. Joey Allen says that's one reason he picked his spot, where no one nearby has applied so far. He feels his chances of being one of the five awarded a license are as good as anyone's. However
Allen- I don't think five liquor stores will survive in a community this size. I think that probably within a year or so you will see two to three liquor stores.
Allen says he bases that assumption on the business he already gets from Trigg at his Gracey store.
Allen- A liquor store in my opinion needs to be doing about $600,000 a year in sales in order to break even and anything above that you can make some money.
Regardless of how many package stores sink or swim, Grow Trigg organizer Ken Culwell says the new ordinance is going to reform the local economy.
Culwell- They added a six percent tax, but not only that, jobs. If places have to be renovated there's carpenters, painters, and plumbers and things that will be put to work short term. And longer term, all of those places have to have employees, and none of them do now.
Culwell says many think the move will increase tourism and sales. Grow Trigg was behind the county's push to end prohibition there. He says his group is pleased with the ordinance drafted by the county, with only one reservation.
Culwell- We would have preferred to have Sunday Sales, but you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time and that's a concession the other side wanted.
The other side Culwell refers to are those who voted against ending Trigg's prohibition last September, coming up 36 votes short. Many of whom are attempting to re-vote their individual precincts dry again. Joey Allen says he wonders what will happen to those applying for licenses in downtown Cadiz if Circuit Judge C.A. Woodall decides to allow the vote.
Allen- My concern is they are going to dry up downtown. I don't want to be sitting there in a place selling liquor one day and selling ice cream the next.
Allen says the Rock Castle area where he plans on opening his businesses is a safe bet. That precinct predominantly voted to go wet. Judge Woodall is expected to begin hearing both sides of the individual precinct arguments next week, an issue that has divided state authorities.