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Work on a $472,000 upgrade to Black Mountain's town-operated ABC store is expected to continue until the beginning of June. It's open, with slightly abbreviated hours.

The store, which has been in its N.C. 9 building for 37 years, closed March 5-7 to move liquor from the showroom to the warehouse so that crews could work, general manager Randy Reece said.

The remodel, which will add nearly 50 percent more space to the showroom, is "a long time coming," said Reece, who has worked there 12 years and managed it for four.  

"We're expanding the showroom by moving our offices and the bathrooms back," he said. "There will be a whole lot more shelf space, and we'll be getting new shelving, lights, flooring and front entrance."

The Black Mountain ABC store is popular, he said. Last fiscal year it did around $2.3 million in sales. "We've really seen a steady increase in customers over the past few years," Reece said.

Bill Christy chairs the town's Alcohol Beverage Control Board, a three-member commission that governs the store. Members serve three-year terms and are appointed by the Black Mountain Board of Aldermen. The state's Board of Alcoholic Control is responsible for oversight of the local ABC board. 

"We recognized several years ago that we would need to do work to the building," Christy, a Black Mountain-based attorney, said. "By statute, we can only accumulate so much cash, so we got permission from the town to accumulate cash to help with these renovations."

The board set aside $300,000-$400,000 to put toward the remodel, Christy said, and plans to borrow $200,000 from First Citizens Bank. 

"The loan amount will be $200,000, but our goal is to only use $100,000 of that and get it paid back as quickly as possible," he said. 

Lake Lure-based architect Ric Thurlby was hired to create the design. The bid for the work was awarded to Gastonia-based Custom Building Systems, Christy said. 

"We sent out a very specific bid sheet for this," he said. "(Custom Building Systems) has done a number of ABC store builds and renovations around the state."

The Black Mountain store, which employees six full-time permanent staff members, will continue to be open Monday-Saturday. But instead of closing at 9 p.m., as it normally does, it will close at 7 p.m. during the week and 8 p.m. on Saturday. 

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