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Alcohol sales spike during pandemic; and that money helps Maine

Money that comes into the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations helps pay down Maine's Municipal Bond debt; and alcohol sales are way up.

AUGUSTA, Maine — One of the negative - or positive - effects from stay-at-home orders (depending on how you look at it) is that liquor sales have risen. More money going into the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations is more money going into paying off Maine's municipal bond debt - helping to cover the costs of new state infrastructure: roads, highways, hospitals, etc.

Since 2014, the bureau has taken a more digital approach to helping further those spirit sales in Maine, launching the brand "Maine Spirits," in partnership with Pine State Trading Company. Since that change, you've likely seen more commercials featuring cocktail recipes, and Instagram takeovers with chefs teaching you how to cook with bourbon. 

Gregg Mineo is the director of the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations, and says since March 1, 2020 - sales of alcohol at the 500+ agency liquor stores in Maine have increased by about 18% from last year at this time. Most of that can be traced to what's happening right now, and the fact that since it's a lot more difficult to grab a cocktail at a bar, more people are mixing at home. That said, Mineo says sales in the last six years have been steadily increasing anyway, and their push to get Maine people to buy liquor locally, instead of just across the border, is working. 

"The centerpiece of the new model is all about going to market in a responsible manner with our spirits business, and as you remember, paying down the bond on the hospital debt. That's what this is all about and we're doing a great job with that, and we're proud of that," says Mineo. 

"Year on year, this fiscal vs. last fiscal, we're up double digits right now. Now a lot of that has to do with pantry loading, if you will, due to COVID... even in normal times, we were up 5-8% on dollar sales, and a like amount, if not even a little more on profit. That's really what this is all about; sales drive operating profit, operating profit drives that all important transfer to the Maine Municipal Bond Bank."

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