Strife over Michigan liquor shortage

Published: Nov. 13, 2019 at 5:48 PM EST
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Liquor retailers across Michigan are dealing with a crisis.

Zach Quinnell, Store Manager at Tadych's Econo Foods in Marquette, says the statewide liquor shortage has been affecting his shelves for months now.

"Spirit sales in Michigan is a $1.5 billion a year business. That's a lot of revenue when you look at it. And if we don't have it to sell, we're missing out on that revenue," Quinnell calculated.

In press release last week, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs cited software issues at one of the three authorized distribution agents as the cause of the shortage. But further details remain elusive.

"I really don't know what exactly the software issues are," Quinnell added.

The problem does not affect beer or wine. However, when a grocery store, party store, restaurant or bar places an order with the Republic National Distributing Company, it often doesn’t have the item in its warehouse to ship it.

"It is frustrating and it's a week-in and week-out battle just trying to keep our shelves full and looking good and having that variety for our customers,” Quinnell commented.

At Elmer’s County Market in Escanaba, manager Shelli Mattson says they are about the start rationing the rum.

"Five O'Clock Rum was a big one that I was out of and some Peppermint Schnapps. That was a good seller. Seagram’s 7 is back in stock, but that was out for a couple of weeks," Mattson declared.

With deer season and the holidays fast approaching, retailers all around Michigan cordially remind us all to not panic.

"Some of them get mad. But I have a big order coming tomorrow for the hunters. I'm hoping some more of it comes tomorrow. We'll have to wait and see," Mattson announced.

The Michigan Liquor Control Commission is taking steps to ensure liquor shelves are stocked prior to the holiday season.

"If the customers can stay patient with us, we're trying our hardest to make sure we have the variety and selection and the quantity that they require," Quinnell asserted.

Retailer licensees can

to submit a complaint directly to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission

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