HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Clearly, not all Virginia ABC stores are created equal.
If you go to the one on 1217 W. Broad Street by VCU (which grossed $2.2 million last year), it looks kind of like an old a DMV joint, with liquor on plain shelves, your typical ABC store.
Much, much swankier is the one in much wealthier Carytown at 10 N. Thompson Street (grossing $6.5 million last year). They sell wine, too, man.
Then there are stores like the one at 2421 Venable Street in the East End (which grossed $1.3 million last year but cost much less to run).
The booze is on shelves behind what appears to be bulletproof glass. Clerks hand it over and take payments through revolving, box-like doors. There are four other stores like that in metro Richmond.
Then there's the new "premier" store at 3406 Pump Road in the Short Pump shopping area.
It is palatial compared with the older stores, and breathtaking compared with the rough ones.
VABC spokeswoman Kathleen Shaw explained it's Virginia's fourth premier store after ones in Williamsburg, Leesburg and Virginia Beach.
The nicer stores, Short Pump and Carytown, happen to be among the tip-top sellers among ABC's 42 stores in the metro area.
Not so much because there are big drinkers in the neighborhoods, but because they supply all those restaurants in the areas where they're located.
There's no doubt Short Pump has gotten the royal treatment. The previous store there, further down the strip mall, got a major renovation just five years ago. Now, there's the brand new store a stone's throw away.
When asked how residents in other areas with older, rougher stores should feel, Shaw said, "We are slowly moving to every store to provide upgrades in terms of new shelving, new flooring, new lighting."
Short Pump became a premier store because "Short Pump has become a shopping destination, so It make good business sense to place our premier store in the Richmond area in Short Pump," Shaw said.
Take a comparison tour with me in this video and see what you think.