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Palm Coast Liquors Up on Hypocrisy Ahead of ABC Store’s Opening (and 10 New Jobs)

| August 19, 2010

abc liquor store palm coast parkway old kings road

City Manager Jim Landon calls it 'the big white ugly structure'--no, not the sign; the rising liquor store. (© FlaglerLive)

When it comes to liquor stores, some public officials and their more sanctimonious constituents can sound like prototypical Saudi-prince hypocrites—as moralistic and virtuous on the outside as they’re ready to chugalug and slosh behind closed doors, preferably at discount prices. So it’s been with the new ABC Fine Wine and Spirits—ABC liquor store, to most initiates—rising up like a giant white ice-cube at the intersection of Palm Coast Parkway and Old Kings Road.

When the 10,000 square-foot store finally opens in November, the first ABC in Flagler County, more people will line up to sample its 3,000 wines, its 20-door beer cooler, its walk-in humidor and its innumerable variety of blues-busting liquors that any church in town could dream of, including the two Catholic ones that can pack them in (though not without that enticing promise of wine at the end of the service). Almost certainly more than 100 people will line up to apply for one of the eight to 10 jobs the store will create. The ailing Palm Harbor shopping center behind it, where 14 of the 28 or so stores are shuttered, will likely be thankful for the traffic ABC will generate, as vehicles will be forced to go through the shopping center to get to it (no entrances directly off of Old Kings or the parkway). And local dollars by the hundreds of thousands that are being swilled off on liquor in Volusia or St. Johns counties will be spent here.

For all that, and in Palm Coast City Manager Jim Landon’s words—the same city manager who imbibes economic development and stirs to the mention of local job creation—“we actually did everything we could to discourage them” from building there. Referring to it as “the big white ugly structure that is the ABC liquor,” Landon speaks more highly of the Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants going up in the Target shopping center along State Road 100. And Mayor Jon Netts is still fielding irate calls from residents who complain about the ABC building’s presence and proximity to the road.

Landon gave a brief update on the store and other commercial developments at a meeting earlier today of the board of Enterprise Flagler, the public-private economic development partnership whose sole mission is to nurture and bring economic activity to the county. As he has on previous occasions when the ABC store has been discussed, the city manager took every occasion to speak of the business derisively, though he also noted the city’s legal limitations in deciding what may or may not be built on privately owned and commercially zoned land. “We really don’t have any control if they sell baby formula or adult formulas,” he said. “Those silly courts of ours won’t allow us to control what’s being sold inside those doors as long as it’s commercial merchandize.”

Netts, for his part, explained more elegantly and less derisively how the only three options at the city’s disposal—buying the property, condemning it or re-zoning it to something like a conservation tract—would end up costing the city more than it can afford just now.

All of which left Bob Gibson bemused.

“I’m not sure what the resistance is all about,” said Gibson, ABC’s director of marketing, Thursday evening. “We’ve traditionally been very good neighbors, we’re involved in all the communities in which we operate, we’ve been a good corporate citizen of Florida since we were founded in 1936.” The Orlando-based company was founded by Jack Holloway when its first store opened in Orlando, just after the end of Prohibition. It’s run today by Holloway’s grandson, Charles Bailes.

Meanwhile, across the street, the Blue-Roof building, a local landmark, is gone--to make room for Palm Coast's 773rd pharmacy. (© FlaglerLive)

The store will obviously comply with all of Palm Coast’s generally strict commercial development regulations, which tend to be stricter for some than for others, depending on who’s more favored: ABC was made to comply with every regulation in the book, while Florida Hospital Flagler, for example, on Tuesday evening got a waiver both on density regulations and on height-limit regulations when the Palm Coast planning and zoning board approved future construction exceeding the 100-foot limit on the hospital campus (to 120 feet). In official city parlance: Hospital, good. Liquor, bad, though one does feed quite a bit of business to the other.

The ABC store won’t be anything like its older versions in most Volusia County locations, where stores date back to the 1970s. “It’s going to be a brand new prototype store,” Gibson said. “I think people will recognize it as a store to be proud of. The days of mom and pop dark and dingy liquor stores, those days are numbered. ABC is not into those. We build these bright, well-lit, wide-isle stores to be proud of.”

The city makes much of its development codes—which are something to be proud of—as it does of its particular attention to landscape architecture, thanks to Bill Butler, who’s something of an artist in the trade. Gibson, however, said his company is no slouch in developing attractive stores. “If it’s going to be an ABC, it’s going to be top notch,” he said, referring to the new prototype store, which in Palm Coast is likely to be painted in earth tones once past the ice-cube look. “We’ll stand it up against any retailer anywhere.”

ABC doesn’t seem to be affected by the recession. “We’re in the process of remodeling older stores all over the place,” Gibson said. “Three projects going on at any given time, every three weeks we start one, every three weeks we finish one. As marketing director I can’t keep up with the announcement.” Nevertheless, he said, the company is as prone to the effects of the recession as any other retailer, suggesting that it’s a myth that liquor stores are recession proof. “We have the same problems anybody has. We’re just choosing to approach it this way. We’re heavily in vesting in Palm Coast and happily so. We’re doing it in the hopes of having a great business there.”

“You’d think,” Gibson added, “that the community would welcome this.”

It’s likely a matter of time—November, to be precise—before the community puts a cork in its inner Saudi and heads for booze’s alphabet.

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32 Responses for “Palm Coast Liquors Up on Hypocrisy Ahead of ABC Store’s Opening (and 10 New Jobs)”

  1. Rob F says:

    It is strange how we fight tobacco as bad for health and how it kills people, but alcohol? I’m sure the young man who was driving drunk and killed the 4 men who were brothers and father had to get his liquor from somewhere. They will not be getting my business.

  2. elaygee says:

    How about those ugly supermarkets and restaurants where they sell all that fattening food that kills millions of people earlier than possible? and those evil car dealers who sell death machines that maim hundreds of thousands of people every year and kill tens of thousands each year too?

    How about shuttering city hall which sucks the lifeblood of its citizens to feed itself at the pigs trough?

  3. some guy says:

    As long as it is up to all city codes and no back room deal was made ido notsee a problem. does it right now stick out hell yes but in time when it is not the new kid on the block and all landscaped and painted it will be just one more building. almost forgot nice swipe at Catholics

  4. hogdick says:

    It sounds like elaygee need another drink or two .It must of been in walking distance from his house .You forgot the catholic churches that is a cover for unholy men that do bad things to little boys .

  5. Bn3 says:

    “we actually did everything we could to discourage them”… This is what is wrong with Palm Coast. You have to kiss the ring of king Landon to do business. Who does he think he is? Here are the rules and if you comply with them here is your permit. You shouldn’t have to check to see if Landon likes you. We certainly don’t need the city of palm coast doing economic development.

  6. starfyre says:

    i cant wait for the store to open

    my 2 sons cant wait to get liquor there

  7. Anonymous says:

    I just wanted to know could the store be any bigger?

    Palm Coast is Known for its drinking problems anyway, so get large and cheap.

    Palm Coast wants to develope, think of a place for our teenagers could go, oh I forgot
    most of them are drinking mommy and daddys left over alcohol.

  8. Ralph Belcher says:

    The deal with the drunken driver killing that family mentioned was a matter of personal responsibility, not of the retailer who sells liquor.

    I’ve purchased liquor for decades, don’t have a single DUI, use it very responsibly and not on a daily basis – I can’t see how you can indict a liquor retailer for the (horrible and,) highly reckless actions of others. You’d have to also indict the gasoline retailer who sold the kid the gas for this vehicle too… how ridculous do you want to get on this?

  9. wsh@302msn says:

    get more alcohol into society and they will forget about the recession or depression that we are in and the lack of jobs that flagler county has to offer. i will not be buying there, i enjoy making my own beer at home with a Mr. Beer kit., at least i know what is in the bottle

  10. The Truth says:

    While the location may not be the greatest, it seems Palm Coasters like to find something to complain about (perhaps it’s because of the high unemployment). I think everyone agrees this could have been put some place else but it’s zoned for commercial. We cannot dictate what goes up in every spot in the City.

    While it’s not bringing many jobs, it is bringing some. We should at least be appreciative of that in this struggling economy and a county that has no jobs for the young crowd. Everyone is struggling right now and we all need to work together to get through this. Any business is good business at this point.

  11. BW says:

    Wow! FlaglerLive has obviously shown it’s inability to stand alone in the news business by bringing that ‘negative sells newspapers’ slant to everything. Must be all those people brought over from the News Journal. No wonder they failed there. Or perhaps you have sought to simply attract all the members of the online forums around here who simply sit around and whine about everything.

    Any reason why you found it important to mention Churches in this article and Catholics in particular? By the way, you may remove the link.

  12. Dorothea says:

    It looked to me like the article was criticizing the prudish members of the city council and the city manager who objected to, but couldn’t legally stop the liquor store. Anyway, I think the aforementioned foks were just blowing political smoke to appease the constant complainers.

    After all, the liquor store is across from MacDonalds, KFC, and Wendy’s, where you can get one of those calorie laden Big Macs, an artery clogging baked potato slobbered with sour cream and cheese, or a big bucket of heart stopping greasy fried chicken. If we add an OTB store and a tobacco shop we can cover almost all the sinful bases. I’ll bet (and not at an OTB) the parking lots would be jammed and the city manager and the city council would drool, in secret of course, at the thought of all the additional taxes collected.

  13. beachcomberT says:

    Down in Port Orange, a new and larger ABC is coming to my Dunlawton neighborhood, along with a new branch of Houligan’s sports bar. Despite the recession — or maybe because of it? — there seems to be plenty of business for various liquor outlets. Speaking of hypocrisy, how about the Florida electorate, which has voted casinos down in referenda, but flocks to the video slot machines found in just about every corner bar and veterans’ post? Funny how the gubernatorial candidates blather about “protecting marriage” but none of them says a peep about the de-facto slots industry, which needs to be legalized, regulated and taxed.

  14. AACHMED says:

    I would Agree the Building Looks to be somewhat of an Eyesore, but if they employ 10 local residents thats better than an Empty Lot, not too mention the Tax revenue! We would have much Rather had to look at that New Carrabba’s Restaurant Everyone was so excited to see comming into Palm Coast, let alone the 75 or more Jobs they had to Offer, But Oh No City Officials Ran them Off, How Dare they have a sign a Foot too high! I bet the Residents of Palm Coast would have Demanded its Removal the Moment they Noticed its Height! Now that we think about it Carrabba’s sounds good, so its off to Daytona Beach or St. Augustine for a Family Night out at Carrabba’s, If any Readers have not had the Pleasure of Dinning there Try it, Food is Very Good, Consistant and the Staff Very Pleasant! Thats just our Opinion, I think There are Far too many Places to Support, that sell Alchohol in the County Now!

  15. SickOfPoliticians says:

    wah, wah, wah, wah. Hypocrites, stop your whining and let us (who enjoy all that life offers) have our tipple. Landon and his cohorts should be ashamed of all the business, jobs, tax revenue and spin-off economic bliss they have cost this county by discouraging business relocation here, and by the uber-restrictive ordinances imposed on businesses, which are, after all, the backbone of our economy. Get a life and stay out of mine!

  16. Bob K says:

    BW, it’s just Pierre getting revenge on all the people opposed to the Mosque “near” Ground Zero. Seriously, though, he does have a tendency to label many of his prospective readers with flattering titles; on his radio interview he said the place was full of right wingnuts. As a right wingnut, it doesn’t bother me, but others may object to being called drunk Catholics. Does he really think someone would sit through an hour of mass for just a SIP of wine, when they can just drive to the ABC in five minutes and buy a jug? He should really think this name calling thing through, as I suspect the News Journal’s traditional print format’s secondary uses to coupon clippers, dog trainers, and fishermen may have kept it afloat a bit longer.

    Whoooaaah! I just realized this is under the “news,” section. It’s actually more of an opinion/hit piece. I really enjoy watching the BBC; they tell you what happened, and then move along. They can actually mention George Bush without saying how stupid he was, and Obama without mentioning how great his pecs are, and what a great basketball player he is. It’s kind of refreshing.

  17. Justice for All says:

    What about the locally owned businesses that will not be able to compete with ABC’s distribution and pricing system? Do those ten new jobs account for those losses in the community? The shop keeper and individual business owner will not be able to compete with the chains that eventually move in here. Say good bye to “small town character.”

  18. starfyre says:

    who cares about small business–this is a big city

  19. The Truth says:

    The comments on this article are exactly why so many people cannot stand Palm Coast anymore. We have a beautiful city which is marred with ugly people. Complaints about location, the type of store, it’s a small business not a big business, and so on and so on. The miserable people in this city will never be happy. Feel free to visit the local forums and you can easily see that a majority of people simply find anything and everything to complain about – from code enforcement doing their job to what businesses are coming in. This community used to be pleasant, people used to wave at their neighbors and smile. Now, everyone is rushed and too busy finding something negative rather than something positive.

  20. starfyre says:

    the local forums are my best friend because i have no life

    so i use them to spread my babble

  21. Rob F says:

    “The deal with the drunken driver killing that family mentioned was a matter of personal responsibility, not of the retailer who sells liquor.”

    Why not blame them…we blame the tobacco companies for people dying over smoking. Isn’t that their own stupidity? Both are addictive. Both are unhealthy and deadly. 2nd hand smoke kills others, so does drunk driving.

  22. The liquor industry killed the dram shop law in Florida years ago. Now, to win a case against ABC the plaintiff has to prove to the jury that the ABC sold booze to someone under 21, or that it sold booze to an alcoholic. Otherwise, the law says it is the drinking of alcohol, not the serving of it, which is the “proximate cause” of the wreck. In other words, the person who picks the glass or bottle up and swallows the alcohol is responsible unless they are under 21 and ABC sold it to them, or were known alcoholics at the establishment, and it kept right on serving them anyway…Why would an establishment do that? Cause the bartender or server gets tips for serving drinks, usually 15-20% of the gross amount (sometimes even tax free).
    I’m glad to see the arrival of ABC, Red Lobster, Olive Garden and Epic theatres in Palm Coast. We’re on a roll. I feel bad for the little guys who can’t compete. I don’t think we need another CVS across the street, but it just goes to show you the tremendous profits in the pharmacy business.

  23. Tom G says:

    we should be very worried if Palm Coast does their own economic development. I forgot about them running off Carrabbas. Add that to the list Wal-Mart Distribution, Bonefish Grill. I am amazed Landon would publicly say “we actually did everything we could to discourage them”

  24. hogdick says:


  25. Rick G says:

    If its tax revenues you’re looking for why not compete with ABC and legalize marijuana?

  26. DP says:

    I got an idea for the city manager and council, better yet all the complainers about this store. Why don’t we just run all the businesses out of palm coast, raise the unemployment even higher, and then raise all taxes so we can’t afford to live here. Outcome will have even more empty homes and store fronts, no tax base and then you all will have what you want and have no one to blame but yourselves. I’M GLAD THERE COMING AND WILL BE PATORIZING THEM OFTEN “WELCOME A B C”

  27. Orion says:

    I believe the store is placed , opposite to heavy traffic, so drivers will not see some of our own, buying their jug..

  28. soleil's mom says:

    what’s wrong with a town that thinks a liquor store is soooo evil? walgreens liquor store does a heavy volume of business. not building abc will not prevent dui’s. irresponsible drinkers will seek liquor some other place. people, not retailers have to take responsibility for their actions. not everyone who has a glass of wine or a cocktail is an alcoholic. now how about letting carrabbas come to palm coast. so many of my friends & myself travel to st augustine to enjoy the carrabbas there. we need the jobs here. “smarten up” folks.

  29. Chandler Slaughter says:

    I didnt see a name of whoever wrote this article, but was the slur on Catholics really necessary? I came here to read news, not your discriminating opinions. I would love if you could email me on this topic, and tell my why you mentioned Catholics with this. Learn a thing or two about other cultures or religions before you write about them.

  30. Look Ma no Hands says:

    I do not see the problem. I do not think the story is any uglier then the fast good places. What is with the crack about Catholics? Not Cool! The smartest thing on this topic is posted by hogdick
    hogdick says:
    August 22, 2010 at 10:23 pm

  31. RickfromLA says:

    I just arrived back in PC after an absence of a few years so I was trying to look for an ABC ad as I needed some vodka for some friends coming in town….and spotted this. The ABC looks a lot like the CVS and Walgreens who I suspect may sell liquor as well…I know Walgreens stopped when the Mormons bought most of the stock.

    If you think the economy is bad in PC (and it is) spend a little time in Ft. Myers, Estero and Naples.

    I just signed up for medicare so you can figure out my age……I think when you get to be my age and your on the downhill part of life, you get angry about everything. I know that I do. A bad Tee Shot, taxes are too high and a long list of other things. You don’t see a lot smiles on people’s faces in PC.

    My opinion so ‘for what it’s worth.”

  32. Vella Belangia says:

    consequently comical!

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