Bethel once again has an operating liquor store, but it only sells beer and wine. Bethel Spirits, owned by Bethel Native Corporation, reopened its doors on Tuesday, July 10. The opening comes a month and a half after the state effectively shut down the AC Quickstop liquor store when the state did not renew the store’s license.
At Bethel Spirits, customers will only find Alaska-produced beer and wine on the shelves. A press release from Bethel Native Corporation says that the selection is “in an effort to promote Alaskan products and Alaskan businesses.” During its previous openings, the store also limited its selection to beer and wine, despite having the word “spirits” in its title.
Bethel Spirits has been closed since July of last year. In 2016 and 2017, the store operated for only 30 days each year, the length of time required under state law to keep its license. This time, Bethel Native Corporation President and CEO Ana Hoffman said in an email to KYUK that the store will remain open “indefinitely.”
BNC is working to transfer its liquor store license to Caribou Traders Liquor, owned by Hooper Bay's Sea Lion Village Corporation. Hooper Bay is a dry village, and the Sea Lion Corporation leases the building that houses Bethel Spirits.
The Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board has postponed the decision on the transfer until after Bethel’s municipal elections in October. On the ballot will be a proposition asking residents if they would like to return to “damp” status under the state Local Option law, and once again ban alcohol sales in Bethel.
Bethel Spirits will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.