By Christopher McDermott
GREAT BARRINGTON — The Select Board is considering a move that would make four more beer-and-wine licenses available for retailers in town, which package-store owners contend has high stakes when existing licenses might be worth $50,000 each.
Owners from most of the town’s eight package stores said they opposed the change. These license holders said they have each already taken the risk of paying a high price for a license, adding that the town should to be cautious who it trusts to sell alcohol, and further, that the extra competition would be hard on long-established businesses.
“If you look at the community and the visitors that come into the community, the pie is only so big,” said Joe Aberdale, owner of Aberdale’s package store in Housatonic. “We have it split up pretty good right now with eight stores. If you continue to add stores we’re going to split that pie up even further, which will eventually cause problems and force some of us out of business.”
Matt Masiero, co-owner of Guido’s Fresh Marketplace, said a decade ago he paid almost $50,000 for his license to sell alcohol in Great Barrington, and Aberdale said banks consider the licenses to be financial assets. After taking on the risk by making that upfront investment, Masiero said it’s unfair for the town to add “undue” competition.
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