S.C. liquor store hires plane to advertise in south Charlotte
Seizing on Mecklenburg liquor shortage, Southern Spirits gets creative to spread the word that it’s ‘fully stocked’
Up in the sky: A South Carolina liquor store owner is taking advantage of Mecklenburg’s liquor shortage by advertising with a plane carrying a banner, which are more typically seen at the beach or at big football games. (Photo sent in by Ledger reader)
by Tony Mecia
A South Carolina liquor store owner is capitalizing on shortages of liquor at Mecklenburg ABC stores by hiring a plane to fly around south Charlotte with a banner touting his store — which he says is well-stocked.
After our article Wednesday comparing empty shelves at ABC stores with fully stocked shelves at Frugal MacDoogal in Fort Mill, several readers reached out with news of the plane, which is advertising for Southern Spirits in Indian Land, just south of Ballantyne:
“It was circling south Charlotte sports fields for a long time … They are low and loud,” one reader wrote.
“Every single day, a loud single engine plane flies back and forth over 485 (and my neighborhood) with a banner for Southern Spirits like it’s Myrtle Beach,” another wrote.
Hiring the plane is the brainchild of Southern Spirits owner Don Podrebarac. He said he first enlisted a plane for advertising 19 years ago to make a splash when his store opened. Back then, he had it flying five days a week during rush hour along the southern portion of I-485, which was jammed with traffic.
He says he dusted off the idea a few weeks ago.
“I knew this would be a great way to get the word out,” he said. “With the problems with ABC in North Carolina, I’ve even adjusted. I fly a bigger route than I used to fly.”
In addition to the I-485 corridor, the plane now flies along Pineville-Matthews Road, South Boulevard, Tyvola Road and Independence Boulevard. It’s trailed by a banner with the store’s logo and web address and the words “Liquor – Beer – Wine.” (“It has to be simple,” Podrebarac explains.) The plane is operated by a company called Aerial Messages.
He says the plane and the buzz about it have been effective in driving thirsty North Carolina customers to his store on U.S. 521: “These folks want to buy things, like Tito’s vodka. They can’t find any Tito’s. I’ve got displays of Tito’s in my store. My store is fully stocked. I’ve got things you can’t get in North Carolina.”
The N.C. ABC Commission, which controls liquor distribution in North Carolina, has cast the blame for shortages on industry-wide problems such as shortages of glass bottles and delivery drivers, as well as a new warehousing and distribution vendor. Liquor sales in South Carolina are less tightly regulated.
Podrebarac says he doesn’t want to disparage North Carolina’s system or its troubles. But he doesn’t mind getting the word out that he’s ready to serve frustrated North Carolina liquor drinkers.
“The fact that it exists provides an opportunity,” he says. “We’re trying to be smart and take a very positive view towards that opportunity and let people know they can come to Southern Spirits and get what they need.” —TM
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