Despite Surge In Alcohol Sales, Some North Texas Distilleries Still Struggling To Survive – CBS Dallas / Fort Worth
FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – When hand sanitizer went off the shelves in March, the distilleries quickly switched from filling the barrels with whiskey to filling the bottles with the alcohol solution.
However, as this work wears off, despite the surge in liquor sales in liquor stores and on the internet, small distilleries may struggle to survive the lengthy shutdown.
A letter signed by dozens of state officials this week to Governor Greg Abbott said distillers in Texas have seen an 80% drop in sales since the virus-fighting effort began.
According to Todd Gregory, a member of the Texas Distilled Spirits Association’s board of directors, most small distilleries see more than half of their sales come from tasting rooms, tours, and bottle sales from their distillery.
They all ended with everything else in mid-March.
Gregory’s own BlackEyed Distilling in Fort Worth is nearing its ninth straight weekend and it doesn’t sell bottles of take-away vodka.
“If we don’t sell these, we have no other income,” he said.
A survey by the Distilled Spirits Council found that 42% of distilleries hadn’t expected to keep their business going for more than three months.
While Nielsen’s alcohol sales data in April saw in-store sales growth of 27% and more than doubled online, it also found shoppers leaning towards bigger pack sizes and bigger brands.
Many small Texan distilleries didn’t even sell their products in stores, explained Gregory.
In addition, Texas law limits the distillery to sell a maximum of two bottles every 30 days – directly from the distillery.
The letter to Abbott asked him to wave the restriction, which might be enough to allow some companies to stay open and make sales.
“You can come to the distillery and buy four bottles or eight bottles,” said Gregory. “So it’s worth staying open to have a $ 100 ticket, isn’t it?”
Gregory and Tony Formby of Acre Distilling in Fort Worth both said shipping restrictions have also affected their earnings.
“We’re asked every day,” said Formby about shipping to other states.
He said he expected his business to survive but would change significantly even if allowed to reopen. Group tastings, tours, and large crowds from the nearby convention center are likely to be gone.
He wants to give his customers more outdoor opportunities and is again working directly with the shopkeepers, including offering hand sanitizer when they buy, to highlight his product along with the big labels.
“So we need to improve our game and get the public to know our brands better and let them know they can get them in the liquor store,” he said.