Monday, January 12, 2009

Hard Times, Hard Liquor

The Roanoke Times had two articles, though seemingly disconnected, that are each harbingers of the hard times in which we find ourselves.
One, 10 tips for cutting costs and saving money, offers suggestions on "stepping down" to a more frugal lifestyle. Let's see - cut out the Starbucks (never did that), brown bag lunches (always did that), go to fewer movies (last year we saw two in the theater), and keep on top of car maintenance (I'm a shade tree mechanic who can be a bit of a fanatic about that). I guess I could do a little bit better job of reducing phantom power loss by unplugging computers and other electronics (do I get points for cutting the pilot light on the gas logs?). Most appliances are now Energy Star and all replacements will be. Unused rooms are closed during cold weather. We layer clothes inside. About half our heat is from an efficient Jotul wood stove.
My point is - we've been living fairly frugally for a long time (credit my Mom who imparted a strong Depression era mentality). Dinner out is rare. We combine trips religiously. Last night's leftovers are today's lunch. Can we find more savings? Sure. But, like my family, I suspect many in the Shenandoah Valley have been tightfisted for a long time and are better prepared than many for the hard times. 
The second article, VA liquor sales: the hard data on the hard stuff, looks at the drinking habits of western Virginia. Apparently, in good times and maybe more so in bad, folks are thirsty -
Virginia ABC stores sold about 9.2 million gallons of liquor in fiscal year 2008. That's more than a gallon and a half for every person of legal drinking age in the state. That's 795,412,236 shots. That's enough to fill 14 Olympic-size swimming pools and still have enough left over to keep a football team schnockered for a good chunk of the off-season.
Being more of a beer guy, I'm not really tuned in to what folks buy in the ABC stores of the Commonwealth. What's the biggest seller... bourbon, vodka, or rum? Virginia GentlemanJim Beam or Jack Daniels? Do folks go for the cheap hooch when times are tough? According to liquor sales rep Michelle Brooks, there's little evidence of hard times in the hard liquor business?
People keep saying our economy's slowed down, but liquor sales haven't slowed down at all.
Yeah, there are bucks to be made in booze. Good times and bad. Guess that's why moonshining has long been a popular but risky business in Franklin County, and has even found its way to Mount Crawford. The accused in the latter case is supposed to have a court appearance this week.
Time to stoke the fire and chill the cheap beer.

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