For the first time in nearly 40 years, there will be a liquor store in downtown Raleigh.
A new ABC retail store will open this year in the former Kimbrell’s Furniture building downtown, Wake County ABC general manager Bryan Hicks confirmed Tuesday.
The new 5,000-square-foot store will open on the Salisbury Street side of the former furniture building and include another 3,000-square-feet of storage in the basement.
Kimbrell’s closed its downtown location in 2020 after 70 years in business and the building was then purchased by developer Greg Hatem’s Empire Properties in 2021 for $4.3 million.
The ABC store is part of a larger mixed use redevelopment of the Kimbrell’s building, which will include additional retail space, plus office and residential units.
Wake County’s ABC Commission will lease two of those spaces, one for the liquor store and one for storage space. With a downtown location, Hicks said the store could potentially sell to bars and restaurants picking up liquor orders, as well as customers.
An ABC store hasn’t been open in downtown Raleigh since the mid-1980s, Hicks said, during a very different era for the city. Today and before the COVID pandemic, downtown Raleigh is at the center of Wake County’s biggest development projects.
A new downtown Raleigh location was the top recommendation from a 2021 future facility study commissioned by Wake ABC, suggesting the influx of new residents and high density demanded a new store, Hicks said.
“Downtown had pretty much fizzled out,” Hicks said of earlier decades. “There was a lack of interest in development downtown. Now we’re seeing the exact opposite of that, there’s tremendous focus on downtown. It’s not just RedHat, it’s banks, tons of restaurants. There’s a lot more interest and we realize the people who live downtown have to travel a good distance to get to any ABC store. If there’s an area we aren’t servicing we want to address that.”
North Hills liquor store now open
The downtown store will be the second retail location opened by Wake County ABC this year, following a new 8,000-square-foot shop in Raleigh’s North Hills.
The North Hills ABC store opened to the public Thursday, April 20 in the former Truist Bank space between REI and Bank of America, located at 4261 The Circle at North Hills Road, Suite 115.
That opening is Wake’s first new liquor store since 2018 and brings the total locations countywide to 26.
“We have been looking at the North Hills area for many years,” Hicks said. “We knew there was a demand there.”
Historically, Wake’s ABC strategy was to purchase land and buildings where it planned to open stores. Hicks said today’s real estate market is forcing the commission into leases, such as the future downtown store and the newest location in Raleigh’s North Hills.
“What it tells us is Wake County is growing,” Hicks said. “We want to do our best to serve the community with modern stores in efficient locations that are easy to access.”
Where to find ABC stores in Wake County
You can find a list of Wake County ABC stores and a map at wakeabc.com/locations.
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