25 March 2024

A fifth takeaway liquor outlet for Howlong if BWS proposal approved

| Vanessa Hayden
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Federation Council has received a development application for a BWS drive-through bottle shop at a major intersection in Howlong. Photo: Vanessa Hayden.

There have been mixed reactions to the proposal for a BWS drive-through bottle shop in Howlong, a town of just over 3000 that already has four takeaway liquor outlets.

Some Howlong residents took to Facebook to express their concerns while others were indifferent to the proposed development.

The $1.9 million development is proposed for a vacant block, known locally as ‘Maxwell’s Corner’ on the corner of Hawkins Street and Sturt Street and next to The Court House Hotel.

Several people took to the local What’s on in Howlong Facebook page to have their say about the bottle shop, stating the town was already well-serviced with takeaway liquor outlets. They thought money could be better spent on other services.

“There’s enough outlets in town already to purchase alcohol, what about a car wash … maybe something decent to eat,” commented Brett Pulfer.

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“There are enough places to get alcohol in Howlong! If you can’t get out of your car to buy grog, there’s something wrong!” wrote Amy Henderson.

Rob Howe re-iterated the objector’s sentiments with: “I’d rather support the pubs, club and IGA. I agree. Plenty of other better options out there. Being a small town the last thing it needs is another alcohol outlet. Plenty in town to choose from. It’s not the 1970s anymore with such culture.”

One local who knows the town culture well is The Court House Hotel’s leaseholder Peter Knight, known for having your beer ready and waiting for you when he sees you pull up out front.

Peter has leased the hotel for the past eight years and worked there for the five years prior to taking over the management role.

The BWS development is proposed for the empty block on the corner of Hawkins Street and Sturt Street. Photo: Vanessa Hayden.

He’s not concerned the proposed bottle shop will affect his business, but is astonished BWS sees merit in establishing one in the small township.

“I was surprised I really was, it’s a funny thing to put in Howlong. There’s one in Corowa and one in Albury, they must want one every 30 km and said ‘there’s a vacant block, let’s whack one in’.

“I don’t think it will be the jewel in the crown for BWS bottle shops.

“I can see how a couple of tradies on a Friday or Saturday afternoon on the way home from work, instead of getting out of their car and walking inside to buy two stubbies might use it, but personally I don’t think it will be their best performer.

“My takeaway market is at 11 pm when customers are deciding where they might go next. It looks like BWS will be operating to 9 pm during the week and 10 pm on weekends and I often don’t see a car from 7 pm in the summer time some Sunday nights.

“The 97-page proposal has an awful lot of Sydney figures in it – 15 cars an hour on a Friday and Saturday? Well, good luck with that!”

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Peter believes BWS will struggle to attract the people who already drive to Albury to shop at places like Dan Murphy’s to save two or three dollars.

“They certainly aren’t the cheapest, but some of their specials are pretty good every once in a while. I certainly wouldn’t drive to Corowa to use it for me, I buy bulk and I can’t even remember the last time I went to Albury to use it.

“It’s their money, it’s their $1.9 million so I’m not going to stop anyone. I don’t think it will affect this hotel that much. Takeaway alcohol is only a very small part of my business.

“It will probably affect the IGA the most.”

Supporters of the proposal on the Howlong Facebook page voiced their endorsement, saying any business was good business in the township.

“How about any business that starts up in Howlong is good for the town? Means a couple of jobs for locals and more competition, BWS first then more will follow eventually,” commented James Keith Brown.

“Not like it’s going to be open till 10 pm every night. In fact, I doubt it would be open till 10 even on a Friday and Saturday. But if it’s open a little bit later than IGA that’s a good thing,” he noted.

The Federation Council was contacted on numerous occasions to provide more information and comment on the objections but did not take the opportunity.

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