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More North Carolina cities consider social districts

One too many sips was an original concern, but they haven't had issues with it.

HICKORY, N.C. — Drinking alcohol outside of restaurants and bars, social districts are popping up all over North Carolina.

“We want Hickory to be attractive and have something for everyone," Hickory Mayor Hank Guess said.

For some, that means sipping and strolling.

“It’s win-win for everybody," General Manager at Hickory Wine Shoppe, Kristi Carpenter said. 

Carpenter says the social district has been beneficial for her business.

“When we have live music on Friday nights, if our patio is full it gives people an opportunity to sit on the outskirts of our area and still have that alcoholic beverage," Carpenter said.

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Carpenter also made note, that the shops that don't sell alcohol in downtown Hickory seem to be making more money.

“Shopping and sipping, everyone’s shopping a little more when they’ve had a few sips," Carpenter said.

One too many sips was an original concern, but they haven't had issues with it.

“The obviously things that people were concerned about we’ve really not seen that," Guess said. “We’ve not had any issues or problems people seem to be attracted to it."

Now, other cities like Charlotte and Albemarle are looking to open their own social districts.

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“I think this will add benefit to our local vineyards and breweries that are starting to crop up throughout our area," Albemarle Main Street Program manager, Joy Almond said.

Almond says the social district would be a safe area for people to stroll and drink, with strict guidelines that will protect staff and guests.

“It takes a lot of the guesswork out of the ways we need to be in compliance with our state ABC laws,” Almond said. 

The City of Albemarle will host two Public Input Sessions on Monday, April 25, 2022, to obtain feedback from the community on a proposed Social District.

Social Districts enable patrons of downtown ABC permitted establishments to drink an alcoholic beverage on sidewalks and public areas within the defined social district.

The Public Input Sessions will be held on Monday, April 25, 2022, at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. in the Ray Allen Room at Albemarle City Hall located at 144 North Second Street, Albemarle. Those unable to join in person can join virtually by following this link: https://albemarlenc-gov.zoom.us/j/84224081134 Please use passcode 150721 to join.

Staff will provide an informational presentation on Social Districts, discuss boundaries for the district, and address questions that guests may have. Community input is vital and appreciated for city staff to consider as they move toward the implementation process.

Contact Lexi Wilson at lwilson@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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