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story.lead_photo.caption Rudene McCombs, dayshift manager at Bogey's completes a sale to Brooke Austin who was stocking up for the weekend. Bogey's has steadily built its customer base since Little River County left its dry status behind in 2017. Since the shutdown, sales exploded and have not let up since. Customers streamed past their drive-thru starting mid-May and have been coming through the doors since the store reopened May 11. (Staff photo by Junius Stone)

ASHDOWN, Ark. — Bogey's Wine, Liquor and Beer, Little River County's first adult beverage store since the Prohibition Era, opened its doors May 11 to in-store traffic, and the customers have not stopped darkening the door since.

However, this is just a continuation of customer enthusiasm which gradually built since they opened Dec. 21, 2017. During the shutdown, which began mid-March, customers began lining up at their drive-thru and maintained a steady stream that continues now.

"The shutdown was the start of things being busier than ever," said Zack Johnson, crewmember. "We had to Chick-Fil-A it," said Rudene McCombs, dayshift manager. "The car line wrapped around the store — no exaggeration — every single day. We had to go outside, write down orders just to keep it all straight. When the restaurants shut down their dining rooms, we went to drive-thru only on the same day. We stayed that way and stayed that busy for six weeks.

"Before the shutdown, that level of business that continuously, we only saw during holidays, though business had steadily been increasing since we opened. But after the shutdown, it sharply kicked up to that level and has not slowed down. There wasn't much to do during the shutdown for some, except stay home, drink, watch Netflix."

Rudene McCombs, the dayshift manager, figures customers had time to kill, which previously had been spent on dining out or other attractions.

"So, with money to kill and time as well, folks were staying in and cracking one open," she said. "But we thank them for being patient and understanding about the circumstances we were under."

"No kidding, we really appreciated how good-natured they were," Johson said.

Even though Little River County is no longer dry, there aren't many places there to get alcoholic beverages.

"This county was dry for the longest time," said Ben Dillow, crew member and nephew of Freida and Sonny Brainerd, former owners of Bogey's. Stephanie Wright, who owns the store now, along with her husband, Bryan Wright, is their daughter. "There is only one other liquor store in the county besides this one now. No bars, as of yet, though there are some private clubs, like a country club, some union halls. The shutdown hit when we normally have a seasonal pickup."

"Besides folks not having much available to do, I think uncertainty also drove them to us," McCombs said. "They didn't know we would be reopening. Every day, they asked us when we would be reopening when they came through the drive-thru. They are still calling us, asking us if we are reopening."

"We had a soft reopening," Dillow said. "No advertising; customers just have been slowly figuring it out."

"I'm so glad they are open again," said Brooke Austin, customer. "I'm glad their doors are open again."

Bogey's is at 125 Webster Drive, Suite E, in Ashdown. For more information, call 870-648-4422, or visit them on Facebook.

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