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Local liquor stores, restaurants adjusting to nationwide alcohol shortage

Facilities shutting down last year during the pandemic fractured the supply chain and a labor shortage is exacerbating the problem.

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — There is yet another product you might soon have a hard time finding at the store: Liquor.

A nationwide alcohol shortage is affecting businesses here in West Michigan.

A local, family-owned liquor store has had to pivot so their shelves don't go empty.

Rishi Makkar is the manager of Rishi's International Beverage on 28th St SE in Grand Rapids. Getting certain alcohol, especially imports, for his customers has been tough.

"Things like Corona, Modelo, Scotches, Tequila," Makkar said. 

Facilities shutting down last year during the pandemic fractured the supply chain and a labor shortage is exacerbating the problem. Makkar has had to plan way ahead with his suppliers.

"That puts pressure on small independents. We're buying inventory 3, 4 months out in a regulated, low-margin industry," he said. 

Cantina Mexican Grill, just down the street from Rishi's store, has been getting their liquor from him at least three times a week because they haven't been getting full orders.

"Sometimes there's an ETA date. Sometimes there's not," said Sandra Carmona, an assistant manager. "We just have to keep our fingers crossed and hope we get what we need."

"We'll have to settle for liquor we haven't used before. Something that doesn't go typically in a margarita," said Rachel Rich, another assistant manager at the grill. "But our customers are usually understanding." 

Iif you see seasonal liquor products on the shelves grab them now, according to Makkar, because those will probably be the first to go leading into the holidays. But if you can't find a certain brand, there'll always be other options. 

Customers will also likely see prices up on some liquor products, because of lack of supply and increased demand.

Makkar doesn't expect the situation to improve until three to six months from now.

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