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Rural Alaska

Beer-wine shop opens in Bethel after closure of town’s only liquor store

BETHEL – Bethel has a shop selling alcohol again after the town's only operating liquor store was shut down by the state alcohol board this year.

Bethel Spirits reopened Tuesday, but it is selling only beer and wine, KYUK-AM reported.

AC Quickstop's liquor store, the only shop selling alcohol at the time, was shut down in May after the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board voted to not renew its license. The decision came after city officials said the store caused a strain on emergency resources as the number of alcohol-related calls for services increased.

Bethel Spirits, owned by the Bethel Native Corp., had been closed since July 2017. It only opened for 30 days for each of the last two years, the minimum time required under state law to keep its license.

This year the shop plans to stay open "indefinitely," said Ana Hoffman, the corporation's president and CEO. The shop intends to sell only Alaska-produced beer and wine to "promote Alaskan products and Alaskan businesses."

The corporation is working to transfer its liquor store license to Caribou Traders Liquor, which is owned by Sea Lion Village Corp. in Hooper Bay. Sea Lion leases the building that houses the Bethel store.

The state alcohol board has postponed considering the transfer until Bethel's municipal elections in October. Bethel voters will decide if they want to ban alcohol sales again in the city.

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