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County-run liquor store in Snow Hill to close Dec. 31

(Nov. 21,2014) Deregulation and a new liquor license granted to the owners of the Snow Hill Food Rite (formerly IGA) have caused another contraction at the Department of Liquor Control.

Director Bobby Cowger informed the county commissioners Tuesday of the plan to close Snow Hill’s county-run store effective Dec. 31. The two full-time employees of the store, according to Cowger, will be relocated to fill vacancies in other stores.

The decision had the unanimous support of Cowger’s management committee, owing to trends of poor profitability and a reluctance to compete with another local retailer. The store was relocated from Tyson’s Lane, just off Route 113 to the administrative office on Snow Hill Road earlier this year.

Bids on renovations to accompany the move were first rejected in May 2013. The scope of the project was reduced and a budget was set at $49,665, including a 10 percent contingency. Much of the reduction came from using county employees and time to complete the renovations.

In a letter to the commissioners explaining the project dated July 31, 2014, Cowger states, “The current lease cost for our Snow Hill Retail Store off US Route 113 is $1,600 per month … Our lease is currently expired and we are renting on a month-to-month basis. If we spread the cost of renovations over a three-year period, the relocation will not adversely affect cash flow.”

Cowger, in the same document, predicted “significant cost savings” after three years, which would also offset losses in the old location.

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