History / Organization

Brief History

Before the 1935 session of the Legislature adjourned, it realized that many sections of North Carolina were unhappy with the existing prohibition law. Legislation was passed that allowed seventeen counties to establish ABC stores.

The Wilson County Alcoholic Beverage Control Board was established in a referendum voted on by the citizens of Wilson County on June 22nd, 1935. The citizens of Wilson County voted overwhelmingly in favor of opening ABC Stores, with 4,147 votes for and 428 votes against.

Customers wait outside for the opening of North Carolina’s first ABC store located in Wilson on July 2, 1935.

The first Wilson County Alcoholic Beverage Control Store opened on Tuesday, July 2, 1935 on East Nash Street in Wilson. This store was also the first legal liquor store to open in the State of North Carolina after Prohibition was repealed. On the first day of business, customers bought 825 bottles of legal liquor for $1,003. An article appearing in The Wilson Daily Times shortly after, stated that the “opening of the store was marked by the presence of newspaper reporters representing North Carolina’s leading dailies, press associations and magazine writers.” Another article, which appeared in the July 13, 1935 issue of The State Magazine, stated that the opening came with “no big crowds, no drunkenness, no excitement of any kind.” That same article also stated that “most of the liquor that has been sold in Wilson, by the way, is of the cheaper quality. However, they’ve got some high-grade stuff there too. It takes some little time, though, to get folks accustomed to paying $2.50 for a pint of whiskey, after they have been buying it for $1.50 per gallon.”


In May 2005 the North Carolina Department of Archives and History erected a Historical Marker on East Nash Street commemorating the opening of the state’s first, legal, post-prohibition liquor store.

Historical Marker located on East Nash Street in Wilson, North Carolina.


Today, the Wilson County Alcoholic Beverage Control Board operates a warehouse and five ABC stores in Wilson County. All of our ABC Stores are self-service type stores and boast a wide variety of brands for our customers to choose from.



L to R: Erin Day, Paul Farris (Chairman), and Bruce Beasley.

The Wilson County ABC Board is comprised of three board members appointed by the Wilson County Board of Commissioners. Persons are appointed to serve on the Wilson County ABC Board for terms of three years and can serve for three consecutive terms. The Wilson County ABC Board employees a full-time General Manager who oversees the day to day operations of the ABC Board. The Wilson County ABC Board meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 9:30am at our office.

Chapter 18-B of the North Carolina General Statutes is intended to establish a uniform system of control over the sale, purchase, transportation, manufacture, consumption, and possession of alcoholic beverages in our state, and to provide procedures to insure the proper administration of the ABC laws under a uniform system throughout North Carolina. Also, Title 14B, Chapter 15 of the North Carolina Administrative Code provides additional regulations and control of alcoholic beverages to serve the public welfare. It is the objective of the North Carolina ABC Commission and the Wilson County ABC Board to conform to that purpose at all times.

The Wilson County ABC Board has the authority, by law, to buy, sell, transport, and possess alcoholic beverages as necessary for the operation of its ABC stores. In addition, the ABC Board adopts its own policies and procedures, determines the opening and closing hours of its stores, provides for management of each store in Wilson County, and ensures the distribution of its profits, all in accordance with the rules of the North Carolina ABC Commission.

North Carolina General Statute Chapter 18-B requires that an ABC Board either hire an ABC Enforcement Officer or contract for ABC Enforcement with a local law enforcement agency. Additionally, an ABC Board is required to expend at least 5% of its profits for ABC enforcement. The Wilson County ABC Enforcement Division is responsible for the enforcement and compliance of ABC laws in Wilson County. Chief Kenneth W. Cooke is the ABC Enforcement Officer for the Wilson County ABC Board.  Chief Cooke can be reached at (252) 243-2456.