HOBSON CITY — The tiny convenience store on a corner along this town’s main drag will soon change hands.
Billy “Buck” Ross has sold Ross Handy Mart, the store he’s owned 32 years, to Mickey Ali, the members of Hobson City’s Town Council learned Monday night.
Ali and another man, Raynard McGrue, went before those members during the council’s meeting to tell of Ali’s plans for the store, and to make a request.
Ali told council members he wants to expand the store, adding as much as 2,500 square feet to the brick structure. Part of that space would be used to also expand the store’s offerings — Ali, who owns a Shell-branded gas station in Lincoln, said he’d like to begin selling hot foods, like chicken and pizza.
“With your permission, I’d like to own a liquor store down the road — not immediately, but down the road,” Ali said.
Two obstacles to Ali’s plan quickly became apparent. First, he has not obtained a license to sell beer and wine, which Ross currently holds. Ali told council members he’d begun that process, and expects to have a license by Thursday.
Second, the town has no ordinance regulating the sale of liquor, said the council’s attorney, Jake Mathews.
Mayor Alberta McCrory told Ali that he could purchase a license during business hours Tuesday that’d allow him to sell items other than alcohol.
Mathews said the council would likely need to call a special meeting to consider whether to give the new store owner a license to sell beer and wine, though.
That could happen next Monday. As for Ali’s hopes for a liquor store, Councilman Freddie Striplin said the council ought to look into drafting an ordinance that might allow such.
“There are people leaving Hobson City and going to a package store,” he said. “Why shouldn’t we make a dollar or two off of that?”
Meanwhile, Ross continues to oversee the store he’s owned more than three decades. He left the council’s meeting Monday and headed there, taking up a broom to sweep the parking lot.
“It’s time to take a break,” he said of his decision to sell to Ali. It marks a second retirement for him. The first came in 2002, after 30 years working for Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Gadsden.
The store will officially change owners Aug. 1, he said. He’ll stick around until Ali receives a license to sell beer and wine — but if that happens next week, he said, “I’m gone.”
In other business, the council:
— Heard that the annual Founders Day week of events this year will begin Aug. 14, on a Monday. The week typically begins with a Sunday morning church service, but McCrory said the a local pastor who also serves as the town’s chaplain has a prior commitment. The Founders Day festivities will last until Aug. 19.
— Heard that Saturday, July 15, will be an opportunity for town residents to set large garbage items outside for curbside pickup to the county dump.
— Heard that two speed bumps would be installed along Martin Luther King Drive Tuesday. The bumps are intended to reduce speeding along that street.