Drop in Kilgore area alcohol sales forces store closures - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Drop in Kilgore area alcohol sales forces store closures

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KILGORE (KYTX) - If you drive across the border from Smith to Gregg County on Highway 31, you'll see several liquor stores closed down. Since Tyler went wet almost a full year ago, alcohol sales have plummeted in Gregg County.


Red Tag Liquor is one of the only stores left hanging on by a thread on that stretch of 31. Managers say sales have gone down about 50 percent. Paul Im and his family opened Red Tag two years ago, and each year couldn't have been more different. 

 

"We're scraping by," Im says. "There's definitely a huge difference! It's not fun like it used to be."

Reports from the State Comptroller's Office show alcohol sales in Gregg County are down about $4 million so far this year, compared to all of 2012. 

"The highway's still here so that helps out, but 50 percent drop is a huge drop, you know? And I think it was like 80 down the road or something like that," Im says.

People like Tim Story from Tyler have no reason to drive out to his shop.

"Kilgore used to be the place for me to go," Story says. "Short drive, and they had everything. But now that it's wet in Tyler, I'll save my time, go to Brookeshire's or a gas station or something, save on gas."

Not all hope is lost, though. Im's family owns another liquor store.

"TJ Liquor inside Kilgore next to the college."

Kilgore's alcohol sales have dropped too, but not nearly as much as Gregg County's. 

"This highway here has dried up a lot because people stay closer in town," Im says.

He's taking a day at a time, hoping things will eventually pick back up.

Im's biggest drop in sales has been because of beer, because people can now buy it elsewhere. Liquor sales are still pretty high, but if Tyler starts to sell liquor too, Im could be in trouble.

Kilgore Finance Director Luana Williams says the drop in city alcohol sales has not effected the economy very much.

On the other hand, the City of Tyler is bringing in more than $35,000 tax dollars a month on alcohol sales. 
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