North Carolina is a state I love and as alum of their flagship state university, I can tell you there is no place better to go to school. Also, it is a state of great people and culture, the only negatives about the state are the summer humidity and its liquor system.

North Carolina has one of the worst systems in the country for obtaining good alcohol, especially when it comes to spirits. As a control state North Carolina sells spirits through a state-controlled store, where the consumer is held hostage to the whims of the North Carolina ABC.

Lately, the North Carolina ABC has been an abject failure for supplying products to meet their consumers demands. In 2021, ABC stores supply of spirits were inadequate to meet consumer demand, and instead of coming into purchase spirits they demanded, the consumers were left to stare at empty shelf space.

As consumers cannot get the product they desire, their options are limited. They can either go without, get into their car or an airplane and travel to another state to get product, or they can order it online. It seems many residents of the Tar Heel state have gone to the online option. This is evident by the North Carolina ABC issuing numerous cease and desist letters to several retailers across the country.[1]

Ironically the information provided about the cease-and-desist letters was from the North Carolina Beer and Wine Wholesalers and not the ABC.

But I think the comedy of errors in this whole scenario crescendos when a certain journalist from North Carolina covering this issue turns it into a third-degree crime problem.[2][3] The journalist described someone ordering online as entering the “the illicit world of online liquor” and that the “contraband arrived”.

Illicit is a word used synonymously with illegal hard drugs, the connotation is the consumer is entering some nefarious world when they purchase liquor online. The journalist should note, there is nothing that prohibits the consumer from purchasing wine or spirits from another state, the legalities focus on how the product is delivered to the consumer and how it gets into North Carolina.

With the consumer legally purchasing a product, the illicit and contraband comparisons so synonymous with the drug world don’t apply here. There is nothing nefarious with a consumer’s buying habits in this scenario.

I will give the article credit where credit is due, the journalist tagged an anonymous consumer who purchased alcohol, (I am sure they are in witness protection by now), and they stated that the ABC’s supply failures motivated them to go online. It would be interesting to discover how the journalist found out about these purchasers, ordering alcohol online is not a conversation I even enter into much with people and I am in the liquor space.  Did he ferret out people to find out who purchased alcohol online, or was the purchaser’s information made available to him by another source?

In concluding, online purchasing of alcohol is not a simple state of affairs. But what we do know is that it is on the rise and consumers are demanding products online. Instead of writing stories of consumers who enter this “Eyes Wide Shut” world of online alcohol sales, the journalist would be better served asking the Tar Heel political class, “why the state is not taking advantage of consumer demand, licensing out-of-state sellers, and collecting the tax revenue!” That line of inquiry may open some eyes!

[1] https://www.yahoo.com/video/north-carolina-abc-commission-cracks-145723373.html

[2] https://www.wfae.org/business/2022-05-26/north-carolina-is-cracking-down-on-illegal-liquor-shipments

[3] https://charlotteledger.substack.com/p/inside-the-forbidden-world-of-online-222?utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email&utm_content=share