Norton ABC store move still on hold

Mike Still • Dec 26, 2019 at 6:30 PM

NORTON — Six months after a planned move to new quarters, Norton’s Alcoholic Beverage Control store is still in its current location.

ABC officials in April said that Store 137 would reopen in June after moving from its VA-KY Regional Shopping Center site on Highway 58-E to 725 Hawthorne Drive near Walmart. While the new location has an ABC sign, inside are empty shelves.

Virginia ABC spokesperson Dawn Eischen said last week that the move has been pushed back due to other delays in getting phone, security and internet service into the new location. While a boutique recently opened in the new two-tenant site, Eischen said she did not know why ABC was experiencing delays with its leased space.

Eischen said no date for the move has been set.

When the Norton store does relocate, the new site will be the fourth location in four decades. Originally on Park Avenue, the store moved to another downtown shopping center on Coeburn Avenue in the 1980s, then to its present location in 1990.

The Norton ABC store is the highest-selling of three stores serving Norton and Wise County, with the other two in Big Stone Gap and St. Paul.

According to ABC data for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, the existing Norton store saw almost $1.5 million in sales compared to approximately $528,000 for the St. Paul store and $742,000 for the Big Stone Gap store.

Those sales translated into 21,622 gallons of alcoholic beverages for Norton, 7,953 gallons at the St. Paul store and 11,669 gallons in Big Stone Gap.

ABC’s decision to relocate the store was based on the commission’s standard criteria for store locations, Eischen said. Those criteria include demographics, traffic patterns, population, location rental rates, sales, a shopping center’s mix of tenants, distance from other ABC stores and store accessibility for deliveries.

The VA-KY Regional Shopping Center has seen four anchor retail stores depart in the last 18 years, including Walmart and a clothing store in the early 2000s, Ingles supermarket in 2017 and Magic Mart in 2018. Store 137 shares the center now with two restaurants, an insurance agency, a discount supermarket, clothing store, VA outpatient clinic, payday loan store and a charity shop.