Business is booming at liquor stores

  • Matthew Jaksik waits on a customer at The Wine Rack on Main Street in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Wine Rack on Main Street in Greenfield is open for business. Matthew Jaksik is behind the counter. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Wine Rack on Main Street in Greenfield is open for business. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Kristie Faufaw has a table set up at the front of her store for walk-up service at Ryan and Casey Liquors in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Walk-up service at Ryan and Casey Liquors in Greenfield. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 3/25/2020 4:24:10 PM
Modified: 3/25/2020 4:24:05 PM

It seems many locals are throwing back a shot to forget about the worldwide coronavirus outbreak, as liquor stores across Franklin County and the North Quabbin area report experiencing a massive spike in business over the past two weeks.

Businesses have seen surges in the sale of beer, wine and liquor around the time Gov. Charlie Baker closed all bars and restaurant dining rooms in an attempt to curb the spread of the infectious disease also known as COVID-19. Proprietors assume this is the result both of consumers stocking up in case there is a widespread shelter-in-place and because they are temporarily not allowed to visit a watering hole to unwind.

Kristie Faufaw, co-owner of Ryan and Casey Liquors at 55 Main St. in Greenfield, has seen a huge uptick in business. She said they have instituted a front-door, walk-up service and are asking customers to call ahead for big orders. She also mentioned the store will have an online-ordering option starting later this week.

“They want to stock up and stay inside,” she said of customers, adding that people are buying two to three weeks’ worth of whatever they typically buy. “How many nerves are we settling? It takes the edge off of all the uncertainty.”

Faufaw said the store is now selling much more Everclear, which is 95 percent alcohol. She said people can use it to make their own hand sanitizer, which is in short commodity as of late.

Across the street at The Wine Rack, owner Melissa Winters said she has seen an increase in business in all categories, though wine has not quite kept pace with other alcohol, such as vodka, which she has been selling by the jug.

“That seems to be a hot item right now,” she said. “(Wine) doesn’t seem to be as essential for some people. I think vodka … is a spirit that you can do almost anything with.”

Winters, who has owned the store at 70 Main St. for 15 years, said wine tends to be more expensive. She said a bottle of wine will get you through dinner, but a bottle of vodka will get you through the week, “possibly longer depending on what kind of a drinker you are.”

Winters credits the increase in sales to the closure of bars and restaurants, which Gov. Baker ordered about a week ago. Then on Monday, he ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses, starting at noon Tuesday. The governor’s administration released a nine-page list ( of essential businesses, and stores that sell alcohol are included.

“Workers supporting groceries, pharmacies and other retail, including farmers markets and farm stands, that sell food and beverage products, including liquor stores,” it states.

Chris Milusich, manager of Stan’s Liquor Mart at 1586 South Main St. in Athol, said business is “extremely up” the past two weeks, “pretty much across the board.” He said a great deal of this is due to people not being able to hit up their favorite bars.

“They’ve got to occupy themselves somehow,” he said, adding that his best-sellers are boxed wine and large packages of domestic beer.

Paul Mardas, who has owned Billy’s Beer and Wine at 13 Bridge St. in Sunderland for 25 years, said business has recently looked comparable to when a major snowstorm or holiday is coming. He said liquor stores like his are usually visited by people after they go to a supermarket or grocery store He noted there has been an undeniable increase in sales in the past two weeks.

“(Consumers) realize they should get some beer and wine in case they may be housebound,” Mardas said, adding that “people enjoy a beer with their steak or a glass of wine with their chicken dinner, so I think they decided to stock up.”

He said he is seeing a greater volume of his typical sales — roughly 40 percent beer, roughly 40 percent liquor and roughly 20 percent wine. Like Faufaw, Mardas said vodka is also a best-seller.

William Seibert opened Shelburne Falls Cork at 1 Deerfield Ave. a little more than a year ago, and said he never could have predicted the high and low tides he has experienced in the past two weeks. He said people have come to buy “cases and cases and cases” of wine as if an apocalypse is coming, and his store would have little foot traffic for a few days until those customers returned.

Seibert, who has worked in the wine industry for 30 years, said he sold 22 cases in one Saturday.

“I’ve never seen that before,” he said. “That makes Christmas look puny.”

Reach Domenic Poli at: or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.

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