WILMINGTON—For more than 80-years in North Carolina the state has controlled alcoholic beverage sales through the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, better known as the ABC. But for visitors and new residents from out of state hoping to hold a cocktail party or simply enjoy their favorite drink at home, heading to the local government-controlled alcohol monopoly can come as a surprise.
So why can’t private liquor stores operate in North Carolina? Well, it all comes down to a law passed just a few years after the passing of the 21st Amendment, the law that repealed the 18th Amendment better known as the prohibition of alcohol.
In New Hanover County, the New Hanover County ABC Board was established in 1935 and has maintained the monopoly on alcohol sales in the county ever since.
There are eight ABC stores in New Hanover County which distributed $4.69 million of annual sales to local governments.
Quality control has long been a reasoning for the continued government authority between alcohol manufactures and the public. That’s a reason given since the days when alcohol was sold by criminal enterprises. But now, the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau monitors and control quality of alcohol in the United States and the majority of states in the country, 33 in total, allow private entities to sell alcohol without an ABC Board.