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Pharmacy’s closing to hurt city’s liquor tax receipts

CLOSING DOWN – Workers removed the pharmacy sign from the Rite Aid Store on Hazard Road in Whitesburg Monday. The city will be taking applications for a new liquor license to replace the one now held by Rite Aid.

CLOSING DOWN – Workers removed the pharmacy sign from the Rite Aid Store on Hazard Road in Whitesburg Monday. The city will be taking applications for a new liquor license to replace the one now held by Rite Aid.

The pending closure of Rite Aid in Whitesburg will leave a big empty building at city’s west end, and a big empty hole in its liquor licenses and tax receipts.

The Rite Aid store sold to Walgreen last year, and closed its pharmacy on Monday. The entire store is in the middle of clearance sales and will soon close completely.

So far, city officials say they don’t know what will happen to the building when Rite Aid leaves, but the company holds one of only two retail liquor licenses in town. That means when it closes, that license will be up for grabs.

Until someone qualifies and is approved by the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and the city, the city budget will be taking a financial hit.

“We need somebody right away to pick up and start selling,” Whitesburg Police Chief and ABC Administrator Tyrone Fields said. “That’s $2,500 to $3,000 a month in tax money that we’re losing if they’re not selling.”

Hometown Convenience, a subsidiary of Childers Oil, ran a required advertisement in The Mountain Eagle on May 29 giving the public notice that intends to apply for a liquor license for the old Sugar Shack Double Kwik store on Hazard Road. Fields said at least one other business has expressed an interest in applying, but no other legal advertisement has been run.

Package sales became legal in Whitesburg in 2012. Because of population, the city is allowed only two licenses for stores to sell package liquor and wine. Big Daddy’s Liquor Barn on US 119 North at Ermine holds the other license and both it and Rite Aid began selling the year it became legal.

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