BY DEBBIE PAGE
Troutman ABC Board Chair Layton Getsinger reported a 32 percent increase over 2019-20 fiscal year projected sales during the board’s July meeting.
The board predicted sales of $1,622,000 in its budget plan for the year but instead raked in $2,142,313.
April through June net sales ($720,646) were up 73 percent over last year, with a fourth quarter net profit of $60,646, a 133 percent increase over the same period last year.
Getsinger said the store made an annual net profit of $135,769 after distributions, which was much higher than the projected $40,000.
The recipients of this year’s community profit distributions include Troutman Police Department (law enforcement – $7,765), and Drug-Alcohol Coalition of Iredell (alcohol education – $10,872). Other selected entities will receive $62,017, including Troutman schools (12.5 percent divided among TES, TMS, CATS, SIHS), Troutman Parks and Recreation (12.5 percent), ESC Park (12.5 percent), Troutman Friends of the Library (12.5), and the Town of Troutman (50 percent).
Getsinger also reported that the store’s best sales day ever on July 3, with $21,100.85 in net sales. He projected $205,000 sales for the month of July.
The store is currently keeping an average of $180,000 in inventory.
Getsinger said operating expenses increased 10 percent during the last quarter because the store added a third person to the day shift to keep the shelves stocked. Weekday sales are now equal to pre-COVID-19 weekend levels, he said.
Constructing a budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year was challenging because it is difficult to predict how long COVID-19 restrictions will affect sales.
For that reason, the board decided to forecast a 5 percent increase over last year’s projected sales (to $1,680,000).
After three years of payments, the balance of the board’s original $625,000 building loan was $558,781 as of June 30.
After paying for the just completed store expansion, Getsinger said that the board has about $100,000 as a financial cushion in its state-mandated capital reserve fund.
Last fiscal year’s working capital fund cap was $421,495 (equal to four months of annual sales), which Getsinger expected to lower to only two months since the store has passed the $1.5 million sales mark.
When reporting the store’s record profits to the Troutman Town Council at its July meeting, Getsinger said, “That’s an unbelievable number. That’s a number that we didn’t even have on our radar for the next five to six years.”
He also reminded members that most stores, according to the state ABC Commission, fail to see a profit until their fifth year of operation. The Troutman store has operated 3.5 years and recorded increasing profit each year.
Getsinger said the numbers were undoubtedly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic stay-at-home orders, which closed bars and also restaurants for a period of time. The store only has three mixed beverage accounts, so its sales were less affected by the closings.
The pandemic has presented an unusual set of circumstances that led to a high increase in walk-in traffic, which caused the board to choose to remain open for its normal operating hours, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. p.m., though some in surrounding areas chose to cut hours.
With only 20 people allowed in the store at once, the board was concerned about honoring social distancing throughout the day and especially during busy periods. Reduced hours would further compact people in the store during shopping trips.
As the pandemic hit, Getsinger said the store quickly installed plexiglass shields at checkouts, marked six foot distance waiting lines, installed traffic flow arrows, provided gloves and masks for employees, and increased sanitation procedures of all surfaces.
After Gov. Roy Cooper’s mask mandate, customers without masks were served at the door. Though the large majority of customers embraced the mask requirement, a few did not, resulting in one police intervention after threats were made to staff members.
STORE EXPANSION COMPLETE
The construction of the store’s 1,760-square-foot addition is now largely complete. The $212,458 project, paid for by the store’s capital reserve funds, provides additional storage area.
“We really needed the warehouse expansion to meet our needs,” said Getsinger, who thanked board member Wes Edmiston for overseeing the construction over the past two months.
Edmiston commended the brick masons and roofers for their beautiful blending of the old and new structures.