The state government being in the liquor business with the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board operating retail stores is seen as a questionable use of power and resources.

Lawmakers have attempted to strip the ABC Board of this role in the past. ABC Board administrator Mac Gipson argues prices would increase if they were successful.

During an interview with Alabama Public Television's "Capitol Journal," Gipson argued the state would be forced to convey shipping costs to licensees if its retail stores went away, which he said would cause prices to increase.

"That's a philosophical view," he said when asked about efforts to take the ABC Board out of retail sales. "There has never been a bill introduced in the House. But there have been bills introduced by Senator Orr in the Senate to take us out of the retail business. The problem with that is that in Alabama, we're unique. We're the only ones in the nation. We've got 168 retail state stores, but we have over 700 private package stores. Well, the retail stores help support the private package business because we have to ship to our stores, so we ship whatever is needed in those private package stores, in the area of our stores, we ship to them and that saves them freight. To give you an example, Mississippi has only private package stores. They're a control state like we are. But, they have to pay around $5-to-6 a case to have it shipped to them."

"Our customers do not have to do that, our licensees," Gipson continued. "They pick it up at our designated stores. And we're even improving that to where those who can buy it at the quantity, we will ship direct. It's Costco. We ship all of Costco and to Costco stores – the four of them within the state of Alabama: Mobile, Mongomery, Birmingham, and Huntsville."

"The stores help underwrite our wholesale business," he added. "If they did take the retail stores away, then the prices would have to go up to the licensees because we give them a discount, very low margin. We couldn't operate on that margin. The retail stores bring us through."

Jeff Poor is the executive editor of 1819 News and host of "The Jeff Poor Show," heard Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon on Mobile's FM Talk 106.5. To connect or comment, email or follow him on Twitter @jeff_poor.

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