Virginia touts Black Friday sales at liquor stores

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Photo - Liquor at a Virginia Alcohol and Beverage Control in Richmond (AP file photo)
Liquor at a Virginia Alcohol and Beverage Control in Richmond (AP file photo)
Local,Virginia,Steve Contorno

After snagging bargain-priced DVDs, laptops and sweaters, Virginians can head to their local liquor store this Black Friday for half-price booze, too.

Across Virginia, state-run ABC stores will open at 9 a.m. Friday and offer discounts between 25 and 50 percent on select alcohol and all purchases above $50 will see a 10 percent reduction at the register.

A handful of locations, including the ones in the Fairfax Court and Fair Lakes shopping centers, will begin selling to customers at 7 a.m.

"This is a unique opportunity for our retail customers to purchase quality items at reduced prices," said J. Neal Insley, chairman of the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. "For individuals interested in trading up to more premium brands for themselves or as gifts, the discount will help offset the higher cost."

There are 339 state-run liquor stores in Virginia. Gift cards will not be discounted, but all alcohol purchases are eligible for the 10 percent discount. The sale lasts until 3 p.m. Friday.

Virginia tested a similar statewide sale the day after Thanksgiving last year. Despite little fanfare about the deals, the state saw a boom in liquor purchases. Sales totaled $3.3 million that day, up nearly $400,000 from 2010. The total number of customers was also up by 5,500, according to the ABC.

This is the first year the department has promoted its sales with signs in stores, advertisements on register receipts and social media.

Virginia is one of 18 states where some alcohol can only be sold at state-controlled facilities or licenses are heavily regulated by the state. Beer and wine can be sold in Virginia supermarkets, but liquor must be purchased from an ABC store.

Gov. Bob McDonnell has made several attempts to privatize the state liquor business, but they were blocked by the General Assembly.

Northern Virginia lawmakers said they were unaware of the state plan but were largely OK with it.

"They're the ones that sell the hard liquor, so if they want to have extended hours, it's legal," said Del. Bob Marshall, R-Manassas. "I just hope people don't drink to excess."

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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