Tight times in the booze biz

PBR instead of Stella Artois.

Absolut rather than Grey Goose vodka.

Two Buck Chuck replaces Veuve Clicquot.

When the economy goes bad, people don't stop drinking. They do, however, rethink their choices. And that is hurting everyone in the booze business, from manufacturers to distributors to stores and restaurants. With sales down, they're working to keep up with costs and trying to avoid laying off workers. But until the economy improves, people's choices to tipple on the cheap will continue to cut away at the bottom line.

"That's coming completely out of your profits," said William Riley, vice president of sales for Raleigh wine and beer distributor Mutual Distributing, which has seven branches and 650 employees throughout the state. "To run a truck, to employ the employee to drive the truck, all that stuff it doesn't matter what I'm selling."

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