Customers trickled into Green’s Beverages on Assembly Street Tuesday looking for handles of vodka and cases of beer.
Manager Ashton Simon organizes black plastic bags meant to hold a liquor bottle with nervous hands. It’s been busier than usual in Green’s, she said. But the storm has yet to arrive.
“We’re preparing,” she say. “We’re waiting.”
Many South Carolinians also are preparing. While many stock up on bread, batteries and water, others seek out harder beverages.
“Last year was nuts,” Simon said, referring to Hurricane Irma’s trek toward South Carolina. “It hasn’t gotten to that point — yet.”
Green’s patron Steven Hogg said he was not preparing for a hurricane party, but was stocking up with beer and liquor just in case.
“I’m just making wise decisions,” Hogg said.
Green’s store manager Gary Kangas said people from Charleston and Myrtle Beach have come into the store saying they’re outrunning Florence.
Saturday’s SEC football game between South Carolina and Georgia in Columbia left the shelves a bit lighter at Morganelli’s on Forest Drive, shopkeeper Dennis Morganelli said. But they’ve remedied the situation, and no one should worry about leaving the store empty-handed.
In addition to bottles, many patrons are leaving with another staple: ice.
“You got to have something to mix drinks with,” Morganelli says.
The hurricane has driven people in the door, “no doubt about it,” he says.
“We had people saying they’re here because they got evacuees coming,” Morganelli said.
That was the case for one customer leaving the Forest Drive store with a box of about six bottles headed to her home. Her family is taking in six evacuees — and their nine dogs — from Pawley’s Island and Charleston.
“I got people coming in and I want to be able to give them a drink when they come in,” she said. She preferred to not give a name. “I’m not making any hurricanes though,” she said, referring to the mixed drink. “I’m not trying to encourage the hurricane.”
She might not be encouraging the hurricane, but to Brian McCurry, general manager of Bottles, people in Columbia appear to be encouraging their coastal friends to come into town.
“Everybody seems to know someone in Columbia and they’re going to drink wine,” McCurry says.
Wine sales at Bottles were almost double a normal Tuesday, he said.
Customer service manager Rachel Brophy witnessed the run on wine.
“I’ve seen people buying cases of wine in anticipation of not leaving the house,” she says.
Zander Giles marched into the store with three friends looking for beverages other than water. They’re having a Florence party.
“We’re throwing one,” Giles said. “Always.”
Columbia beverage store clerks and managers interviewed by The State exuded confidence in their supplies.
When asked if Morganelli’s is ready for a potential surge in customers, the shopkeeper said, “I think so.”