Carson business feel impact of drop in alcohol sales
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer
For the first couple of years after Greg Psilopoulos opened Aloha Discount Wine & Liquors, he had a daily afternoon routine of mopping up the dirt tracked in by the stream of construction workers who patronized his store.
“Now I don’t have to mop at three-thirty anymore, because those guys are gone,” Psilopoulos said.
There used to be a common wisdom floating around that consumption of alcohol increased when economic times were tough. But the current downturn is proving just the opposite.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, alcohol sales dropped 9.3 percent in the final quarter of 2008, by far the largest quarterly drop in the 50 years that records have been kept. The largest previous recorded drop was 3.7 percent, which occurred during the recession of 1991.
For Psilopoulos, the cutback in construction projects in the area, mixed with a tendency for people to buy cheaper beverages has cut into his revenues.
“If people don’t have money, they are going to cut back,” Psilopoulos said.
“We thought that because people weren’t going out to dinner as much and eat at home, that our business would pick up. It hasn’t happened.”
Kim Donner, owner of D’Vine Wine on Stewart Street, has seen the effects on her business as well.
“I think the lower end wine sales go up, along with the beer and well drinks,” Donner said. “But the high-end wines, not at all.”
Fortunately for Donner, the Nevada Legislature is back in session, and she said the lobbyists and legislators tend to buy the higher end wines. But she has to get creative with specials to keep revenues coming in from the locals, such as the $1.75 taco special on Tuesdays.
“That will bring a lot of people in who can come in and eat for cheap,” Donner said.
The Old Globe Saloon in downtown Carson City has extended their happy hour times to keep people coming in.
“You see the same people come in, but they don’t stay as long,” said bartender Greg Pavlik. “A good portion of our business is coming in during happy hour.”
Selling cheaper alcohol is also something that local establishments may have to look at if the economic slump continues for long.
“A third of our sales used to be wine, and now we are way down,” Aloha’s Psilopoulos said. “Unfortunately we don’t carry the real cheap stuff because we believe in what we sell. We don’t want to sell bad wine.”
– Contact reporter Kirk Caraway at email@example.com or 881-1261.