Whether wanting to ignore Irma and party with friends or figuring being drunk is the best way to weather the storm – both reasons given at a local ABC store – people were pushing carts of vodka to the cash register on Tuesday and Wednesday.

But Store Manager Chelle Pittman said a shift in Irma’s track may have changed Onslow’s plans since there were only few and far between customers on Friday.

“We do normally see an uptick, just like grocery stores do,” said Neta Grady, the general manager of the Onslow County ABC Board.

Some people consider alcohol, like water and batteries, part of the staple of a hurricane kit, Grady said. Others see storms as an excuse to have a hurricane party.

One man purchased 80 mini bottles from the ABC store at 419 S. Marine Blvd. in Jacksonville where Pittman works.

“Wednesday was a big day for us,” she said. “It slowed down this morning because I think the hurricane shifted more to the west.”

There are regulars Pittman and her employees see at the store, but she commented about how many new faces they saw coming in this week, which attributed in an increase in sales.

The busiest store is usually the one at 2500 Onslow Drive in Jacksonville, Grady said, and although she didn’t have specific statistics on how much more alcohol was sold for past hurricanes, it is a trend to stop by the ABC store as part of the hurricane preparedness.

While multiple people said they packed their carts for a hurricane party or get-together, William Mears was just picking up a bottle of Svedka vodka for football on Sunday.

“It seems like we’re out of the window,” Mears said Friday.

If the predictions were showing Irma coming this way, Mears still wouldn’t be partying. In fact, he might not have even be here.

“A (category) 3 or above, I won’t stay around for that,” Mears, who grew up in Florida, said.

Gina Bove, previously from Pennsylvania, shared his sentiments.

“I still feel nervous,” Bove, who just wanted to “be by the ocean,” said Friday.

As she stocked shelves with a new shipment of more alcohol – a bigger shipment than normal because of the storm, according to Pittman – Bove said she felt lucky she and her fiancé had already had a weekend in Pennsylvania planned this week, so she won’t be around whether Irma hits or not.

 

Reporter Amanda Thames can be reached at 910-219-8467 or Amanda.Thames@JDNews.com