SNOW HILL– A Snow Hill store will not be able to add liquor to its inventory following a decision by a local board this week.
On Monday, the Worcester County Board of License Commissioners (BLC) voted unanimously to deny a request for a liquor license from Duck In II on East Market Street. Though the convenience store’s connections had hoped to add liquor to its beer and wine inventory, BLC members said the town didn’t need another liquor store.
“The public is being adequately served,” BLC member Charles Nichols said.
Muhammad Usman Ali of Duck In approached the board this week asking for an upgrade from a beer and wine license to a beer wine and liquor license. Ali said currently, Snow Hill only had one store that sold liquor.
“Everyone has to go there,” he said, adding that if they wanted to look for cheaper prices they had to travel to Salisbury or Berlin.
Pete Cosby, Ali’s attorney, said that permitting a second store to sell liquor would allow competition within the town. He added that Duck In served clientele from Route 113 and they often asked to purchase liquor when they stopped. Mike Hamad, owner of the building, agreed.
“There’s a lot of traffic,” he said. “There’s a lot of need.”
He said the Town Market Basket, Snow Hill’s current lone liquor store, shouldn’t be a monopoly. Snow Hill resident Demetria Leonard pointed out Town Market Basket closed relatively early and those who tried to shop after work often weren’t able to do so. She added that there were enough people in Snow Hill to support two businesses selling liquor.
“Snow Hill is a gold mine,” she said. “It’s enough here for everybody.”
Attorney Hugh Cropper, representing Town Market Basket, said there were only about 2,000 people in Snow Hill and that Duck In was less than a mile away from Town Market Basket.
“We’re not here about competition, we’re here about public need,” Cropper said. “This sets an incredible precedent if we’re going to put liquor sales seven tenths of a mile from other liquor sales on a straight shot of a road.”
Cosby stressed that Duck In could serve customers from the highway who wanted to buy liquor.
“For them to be able to pick up what they need at that location and not have to drive downtown to get one item, it just makes all the sense in the world, he said. “It’s serving a real public need.”
BLC member Marty Pusey said that for years Snow Hill had only had one liquor store and that its population had decreased in recent years. The board voted 3-0 to deny the upgrade request.