Havelock soon could have just one liquor store.

Havelock soon could have just one liquor store.
During Monday’s meeting of the Craven County Board of Commissioners, Chip Chagnon, chairman of the Craven County ABC Board, discussed the feasibility of closing the ABC store located at the Westbrooke Shopping Center. The other store, located at 1212 E. Main St., would remain.
“Our board is looking at consolidation of our two stores in Havelock, the Westbrooke store and the east store,” Chagnon said.
In July 2006, the ABC Board began preparations to build a new ABC store on U.S. 70 in Havelock. A year later, the ABC Board rented two units at Westbooke Shopping Center for one year to serve the public while the new store was being built.
The board’s intention was to close the Westbrooke location once the new store opened, but it did get a renewable lease in case sales warranted having two locations. The Westbrooke location remained open after completion of the new location.
Customer traffic to the Westbrooke location is expected to diminish once construction begins on the Slocum Gate Flyover on U.S. 70.
The goal of the ABC Board is to have an ABC store within 15 minutes of Craven County residents.
While the Craven County ABC Board has demonstrated a steady 4 to 9 percent growth rate per year for the last nine years, Havelock’s two stores have experienced flat or slight growth. According to conservative estimates, consolidating the Havelock stores will create cost savings and cost avoidance resulting in increased Craven County and Havelock revenue beginning in fiscal year 2017.
Estimates indicate the consolidation will provide $35,000 to $50,000 per year for the county and $12,000 to $14,000 per year for the city of Havelock.
The Craven County ABC Board commissioned a small business study through East Carolina University and a transportation study to analyze where consumers were shopping and what would be in the best interest of the community.
All of these analyses focused on the Westbrooke store with a recommendation to close that store, Chagnon said.
The other Havelock store is currently only 70 to 80 percent utilized.
“When you go to that store, it’s a beautiful store, but sadly there’s entire shelves that are empty,” Chagnon said.
Closing the Westbrooke location would allow for greater utilization of the primary Havelock store.
“I want to make sure that our customers are being tended to, safely, in an efficient manner and that I can generate as much money, efficiently, within that boundary of customer service in the county and within our municipalities,” Chagnon said.
Chairman George Liner said he had spoken with Havelock leaders and the city’s ABC Board representative. He said some worried about convenience while others were unaware the Westbrooke store was still open.
Commissioner Theron McCabe, who district includes an area southeast of Havelock, expressed concern about the possibility of closing the store.
“My decision on closing this store is no,” he said. “I spoke to a lot of people in the district and it’s very convenient for everybody and my decision is against it.”
The presentation was for informational purposes only. There will be a Craven County ABC Board meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at 3493 Martin Drive in New Bern.
In another matter, a Craven County commissioner received recognition for his 20 years of service.
Board Vice Chairman Johnnie Sampson was recognized by the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners for his achievements and accomplishments.
“I can’t think of any greater accomplishment than to serve your fellow citizens by being re-elected to numerous terms,” NCACC Outreach Associate Neil Emory said. “I think that’s a reflection of the person and the respect they have with their constituents and their fellow citizens.”
Emory presented Sampson with an award and said it was an accomplishment that was occurring less and less in the state.

Contact Jennifer Cannon at 252-635-5671. Follow her on Twitter at JCannonNBSJ.