CUMBERLAND — Local liquor stores are seeing a boost in business since Gov. Larry Hogan, in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, issued an order closing bars and restaurants last week.
Liquor stores are not affected by an order issued Monday by Hogan closing the state’s non-essential businesses.
“We’ve been getting a boost in sales,” said Doug Moulden, whose wife Jo Ann Moulden owns Allegany Liquors on North Centre Street. The store has been in her family’s name for 65 years.
Due to the mandated closure of restaurants across the state, the Mouldens had to close their restaurant, Joe’s Viaduct, to sit-in customers and have switched to takeout orders only.
“Our business is 90 percent people coming in and sitting down to eat. We have people that come in every day that are lost now. I’m here every day and we’ve had to throw a lot of stuff away, potatoes and such,” Moulden said. “The little bit of extra money we’re getting from this helps.”
In an effort to give back to the community, Allegany Liquors teamed up with the Sterne family, owners of the nearby Sports Shoppe, to get food into the hands of kids who are out of school, to provide breakfast. They can choose from a menu of six or so meals via call in or by stopping outside the store.
The Sports Shoppe has pitched in bags with apples and items for the children.
“There are some kids that get their only two meals at school,” said Moulden.
“That’s why we decided to do breakfast,” he said, because other places are offering free lunches.
Hopefully the state is going to leave us alone,” said Moulden. “People who drink need this stuff.”
To Moulden, whatever the run on beer and liquor has been, it’s nothing compared to the supermarkets, where shelves are at times barren without essential items.
“I’ve talked to other liquor stores and they’ve seen a boost, too,” he said. “It’s mostly just (people) stocking up, more or less. It’s not as crazy as the markets. Pasta, you can forget about pasta. It’s steady but it’s not nuts.”
On Greene Street at Parkview Liquor Store, owner Rob Robinette has similarly seen an increase in business.
“We apparently are essential business,” Robinette said just after Hogan’s Monday press conference. “Just to put it this way, it’s been like Christmastime here.”
Robinette has already made contingency plans for the state’s ruling that there can be no gatherings of people greater than 10.
“Most of the time we get people out pretty quick,” he said. “If I would happen to have 10 or more people in the store, I’d make them wait in the parking lot.”
If someone should so choose, they could call from the parking lot and he would bring it out to them. As for delivery, he said, “it’s been busy enough not to.”
In Frostburg, Beer Wine & Spirits is trying to take all the extra precautions necessary to keep customers and employees safe.
“With the liquor stores, the nice part is customers don’t hang around,” said employee Libby Durst. “Really the only time we’re very busy was when all the bars closed.”
The store is requiring its employees to wear masks and gloves.
“We are doing everything possible to protect our customers. We’ve been wearing them the last three or four days,” said Durst. “Right now, we’re just trying to do what we can. It’s scary out there.”
Follow staff writer Brandon Glass on Twitter @Bglass13.