North Carolina took a thoughtful look at how alcohol should be handled after the repeal of prohibition back in the 1930’s. Realizing that a total ban was ineffective and in fact dangerous, the state Legislature voted in 1937 to return alcohol sales back to North Carolina. Currently one of eighteen states and two counties in Maryland who have a control system, North Carolina gave local jurisdictions a vote option for alcohol (including which types) to be sold in their area. In North Carolina, spirits are only sold in ABC stores and the only thing sold in them. Beer and wine are available at grocery stores and other specialty or convenience stores. Some counties voted to establish an ABC system; others were established at the city or municipality level. That’s why we are called the Mecklenburg County ABC Board—we operate our system within Mecklenburg County. ABC Boards in North Carolina are local independent political subdivisions of the State. Boards operate as separate entities establishing their own policies and procedures and they retain authority to set policy and adopt rules in conformity with ABC Laws and North Carolina ABC Commission Rules.
In 1947, Mecklenburg County was a busy area. We were surrounded by industry that began with World War II. The voters decided it was time to allow the sale of alcohol in Mecklenburg County. Opening seven (7) stores and now operating upwards of twenty-four (24), this Board has served the residents of our area who choose to purchase spirits.
It all began with three gentlemen running our system—Frank K. Sims, Jr. the chairman, Fred Anderson, store operations director, and Henry Severs, law enforcement chief. Forging new ground, they established a strong base for our operations today. Our staff now runs about one hundred fifty (150) full and part-time employees working in departments from warehousing, to store operations, to law enforcement.
The Mecklenburg County ABC Board operates solely on the revenue derived from spirit sales in Mecklenburg County. There is no property, state or other local tax used to support ABC operations. North Carolina law requires the Mecklenburg County ABC Board distribute no less than 5% of its profits before distributions on behalf of law enforcement services; and no less than 7% for substance abuse treatment, education and rehabilitation. Some money then is set aside as cash to operate the system. The balance of profits is then distributed according to a schedule established by the voters in Mecklenburg County: 47 ½ % to both Mecklenburg County and the City of Charlotte and 5% to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library.
Through its alcohol education expenditures, the Mecklenburg County ABC Board provides education and substance abuse funding to community partners.
The ABC Law Enforcement Division employs fourteen (14) officers with full arrest powers throughout the State. The unit also empowers certain officers within the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department to primarily enforce North Carolina alcoholic beverage laws.
The Mecklenburg County Alcoholic Beverage Control manages the sale of distilled spirits through business principles that promote excellence in customer service; establishes effective alcohol education partnerships; administers regulatory provisions; and instills financial accountabilities that benefit those we serve.
Rich in history and looking to the future, the Mecklenburg County ABC Board is your board—working harder to serve you better.