Page 3 of 3   <      

McDonnell wants to show Virginia the way out of liquor business

McDonnell (Jacquelyn Martin - AP)
  Enlarge Photo    

Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg), who in the past two years has unsuccessfully introduced legislation that would allow 800 private liquor stores to operate in the state, said studies show that having more liquor stores does not necessarily translate into more drunken-driving arrests or alcohol-related driving fatalities.

Virginia's 332 stores are far fewer than in most other places. The District, which has less than one-tenth the population of Virginia, has more than 500 liquor stores.

Virginia officials said the relatively small number of stores causes them to lose 15 to 20 percent of alcohol sales to neighboring jurisdictions, including Maryland and the District, where prices are lower and locations more convenient.

Ross Mattis and Ned Wheeler, who own a pair of wine shops in Richmond, said they would be thrilled to get into the liquor business. "I want to be the first in line," Mattis said as he sat next to a rack of wines from Australia and New Zealand in one of his Barrel Thief stores.

Mattis took a break from refilling the glasses of two customers on a recent afternoon to describe the liquor store he would like to buy down the street from one of his shops. He would offer a better selection and better service, he said, and would do some cross promotion with his other business.

"If they wanted to give me that ABC store, there's a lot of things I could do better," he said.

Staff researcher Meg Smith contributed to this report.

<          3

© 2010 The Washington Post Company