NEWBURGH, Maine — A family dispute has led to Newburgh Variety losing its license to sell beer, wine and liquor, stripping away some 50 percent of the store’s business in the process, according to its new manager.
Karen Dormida-Sibley of Newburgh, who has worked at the store for two years, said Monday a dispute between the store’s owner, Delmer Terrill, and his daughter Amanda Batchelder is responsible for the 60-year-old store’s loss of its licenses to sell alcohol.
Dormida-Sibley said she had Terrill’s blessing to talk to the Bangor Daily News. Terrill did not return a call seeking comment. Batchelder could not be reached.
“I want to get things back to where they were for the customers,” said Dormida-Sibley. “We haven’t done anything wrong and we’re trying very hard to make things right again. This has nothing to do with all the rumors in town. It has everything to do with a family squabble.”
Since the licenses were in Batchelder’s name, she had control over them, said Dormida-Sibley.
Dormida-Sibley said some untrue rumors have popped up since last Wednesday, when Maine State Police liquor enforcement officers were at the store to oversee the removal of the in-stock beer, wine and liquor. The rumors include that the store was selling alcohol to minors or to people who were using food stamps to pay, which is illegal. Dormida-Sibley said neither is true, a statement which was corroborated Monday by Maine State Police Lt. David Bowler, who is a member of the special investigations unit. He said the state police’s Liquor Licensing Compliance Unit was approached recently by Batchelder.
“She called to ask what she can and can’t do with the licenses,” said Bowler. “Apparently there was some sort of falling out between the father, who owned the store, and the daughter, who was running the store. She ended up surrendering her licenses.”
Bowler said it is “normal procedure” for state police to be present when an establishment loses its licenses to sell alcohol, mostly to ensure that any on-hand inventory is returned to the proper vendors.
“We basically just stood by to keep the peace,” he said. “Everybody was cooperative.”
Bowler said he is not aware of any violations committed recently by Newburgh Variety. He said liquor licenses take at least a year to obtain through a competitive process and that it’s relatively rare for one to be given up for any reason. It happens only three or four times a year, he said, and usually only when a store is closed or its owners retire.
Licenses to sell beer and wine cost $200 each a year. An agency liquor store license costs $2,000 in the first year and $300 a year after that. To obtain a liquor license, a store must go through a one-year probationary period while selling beer and wine before a liquor license is granted. Because of Newburgh’s population of less than 2,000 people, there can be only one agency liquor license in the town.
Dormida-Sibley, who said she hopes to eventually own the store, said she is already in the process of reapplying for the license, but she’s worried about the survival of the business.
“Our community appreciates having us here,” she said. “If there was some special liquors a customer wanted, we would order it for them. Without the beer and liquor, we’ve lost at least 50 percent of our business.”
Bowler said despite the store’s long history with a license, the surrender means it will have to start fresh, which includes the one-year waiting period.
“They will have to be a part of the competitive process … because the licenses were surrendered and not transferred or taken over,” said Bowler. “The gap in time without a liquor license means they are considered a brand-new license and must reapply like anyone else.”