Michigan fines Livonia liquor distributor $3 million over holiday alcohol shortage

Republic National Distributing Company receives record fine

Michigan has hit a liquor distributor with a $3 million fine over a holiday booze shortage.

LIVONIA, Mich. – Michigan has issued a record fine against the Livonia liquor supplier responsible for the shortage that left restaurants scrambling to find alcohol during the holidays.

Republic National Distributing Company was fined $3 million. Last fall, the company decided to move over to a state-of-the-art facility in Livonia, but the technology didn’t take, and that caused major trouble.

The Windmill Market in West Bloomfield has an 11-story shelf to house its liquor offerings, but that supply took a massive hit last fall.

“We were out of a lot of product,” Windmill Market owner Mazen Shaba said. “We were frustrated, not receiving what we needed. The holidays were coming. This was back in November.”

The state ultimately controls the liquor distribution, and officials weren’t happy with RNDC because of hit-or-miss deliveries.

“We weren’t sure if we were going to get our merchandise or not, and we were just hoping for the best,” Shaba said. “When they realized, ‘This is not working,' they went back to their old warehouse and operated out of two warehouses to accommodate all of us.”

Shortages forced retailers such as the Windmill Market to make do and adapt.

“If we didn’t have a bottle of Absolut (vodka), we sold a bottle of Stolichnaya and so forth,” Shaba said. “If we didn’t have a bottle of a particular bourbon, we sold a different kind of comparable bourbon.”

“Unfortunately, as part of the upgrade process, performance was not to MLCC nor RNDC standards,” said Joe Gigliotti, of RNDC. “We are glad to have this matter behind us. We have apologized for the short-term difficulties that start-up problems caused our customers and the state. But we also know RNDC is providing even better service today thanks to our investment in Michigan, and we plan to be an exemplary partner with the state for years to come.”

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Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.

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