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Marshall Goes Damp

Eighteen packs of beer lined a shelf at the opening of Bethel Native Corporation's Bethel Spirits Liquor Store on on Sept. 27, 2016. The store has only operated for 30 days since its opening.
Dean Swope

Residents of Marshall, AK are able to ship alcohol into the community for the first time in over three decades. Voters overturned its alcohol local option status, changing the village from dry to wet. The new law comes with plenty of stipulations.

As of Dec. 4, 2020, people living in Marshall can order alcohol through state-approved delivery companies. There are two that deliver to the bush: Gold Rush Liquors and Brown Jug. The alcohol ships to a site owned by the city, where inspectors make sure that people aren’t ordering above their allotted amount. Each person of legal drinking age can order alcohol twice a month, and get up to 6 liters of wine, 2 fifths of liquor, or 8 six-packs of beer.


Each order comes with a series of city fees. Customers pay a $25 flat fee for every delivery, and they must also apply for a $200 liquor purchasing permit from the city. That comes with an annual renewal fee of $100. The alcohol is currently taxed at Marshall’s sales tax rate of 4%, but the city plans to put an alcohol-specific tax to a public vote. Only city residents can order alcohol. Disqualifying factors include being out on parole, having a court order that prohibits alcohol possession, or having been convicted of illegal alcohol use or distribution in the past two years.


The measure passed in October with 59% of the vote. Besides deliveries, it also allows the city to open its own package store. The City of Marshall is currently renovating a building to be used as a package store, and the city will apply for a license when the renovations are complete. The typical license processing time is 3 to 6 months. Deliveries will still be allowed if the package store is opened, and the $25 flat fee will not apply to package store purchases. When the store is opened, it will be the only package store in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.


Marshall Mayor Jaylene Fitka said that that all of the revenue generated from alcohol sales will go to public safety, including police, fire, and search and rescue.