Booze in Randolph: Do It for the Money
Last week the Asheboro City Council voted 4-3 to put in motion a series of events that might legalize alcohol sales in the city, the seat of Randolph County, which is one of four dry counties left in North Carolina.
The decision enables the council to call a special election allowing residents to decide whether they want exemption from the county laws – one enjoyed by Randleman, Liberty, High Point and Archdale – which would allow sales of beer and unfortified wine.
And Asheboro could sure use the money.
This is an argument that has been waged for years in the Old North State, going back at least as far as the Prohibition Campaign of 1881. In 1908, North Carolina became the first Southern state to vote to enact prohibition, 77 counties for it and 21 against.
We have prohibition to thank for our state’s illustrious place in the history of bootlegging and, consequently, the birth of NASCAR, formed by moonshine runners who wanted to see once and for all who the fastest driver was.
But prohibition isn’t all good.
People in Asheboro still drink alcohol – they just have to drive somewhere to get it, which means a trip just over the county line to a convenience store or bar, usually by car. And even the most prolific drunks and squared-off teetotalers can agree on this: Cars and alcohol don’t mix.
And though many counties in the United States still adhere to prohibition, they do so mainly on moral grounds, so financial matters should not play into the picture. Yet, there it is: By forfeiting the taxes on alcohol, Asheboro turns its nose up at a pretty penny. It is undeniable that there are revenues to be made from the sale of alcohol, which cash-strapped Asheboro could certainly use.
There is another financial matter: Asheboro is home to the popular North Carolina Zoo, which brings in visitors from all over the state. There also exists a Rock-Ola, a Sagebrush Steakhouse, the Olde Town Deli & Bistro, several Chinese and Mexican restaurants and a country club, all of which could profit nicely from alcohol sales. But don’t expect any more national restaurant chains to open there anytime soon: Alcohol sales are a huge part of a restaurant’s business plan.
But far be it from us to urge Asheboroans to vote for the repeal of their personal prohibition. It was a visceral decision to begin with, not one founded on logical or sound economic principle, and if that’s the way they want it, that’s the way it should stay.
And we’ll take their money in Guilford County all day long.
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