By PAUL WISEMAN, AP Business Writer
Some bars and liquor stores believe they have found a powerful way to punish Russia for invading Ukraine: they are removing Russian vodka from their shelves and promoting Ukrainian brands instead.
“I woke up yesterday morning and saw that Russia had invaded Ukraine. You wonder what you can do,” said Bob Quay, owner of Bob’s Bar in Grand Rapids, Michigan. United obviously impose sanctions. I was also thinking of imposing sanctions.
So he cleared his shelves of the old Soviet brand Stolichnaya and started promoting the Ukrainian Vektor. “We have a sign above that says: Support Ukraine.”
Quay announced the move on Facebook, and “it blew up. We have people who have never been in the bar before.
Stoli, owned by Russian-born tycoon Yuri Shefler, is actually made in Latvia. On its website, the Stoli Group states that it “represents peace in Europe and solidarity with the Ukrainian people”.
Liquor store Southern Spirits in Indian Land, South Carolina, is doing booming business with Ukrainian vodka Kozak after pulling Russian brands from its shelves.
“It’s selling out a lot faster than we thought,” said general manager Drew Podrebarac. “It was awesome.”
The Magic Mountain ski resort in Londonderry, Vermont, posted a video on Twitter showing an employee pouring Stolichnaya down the drain and saying, “Sorry, we don’t serve Russian products here.”
Governors have also entered the fray. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine ordered the state Department of Commerce to stop buying and selling Russian Standard, the only Russian vodka sold in Ohio (under the Green Mark and Russian Standard brands ). New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu signed an executive order requiring liquor outlets in the state to remove Russian-branded and Russian-made liquor, as did Utah Governor Spencer Cox.
In Canada, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario announced Friday that “all Russian-made products will be removed from LCBO chains,” including 679 of its stores across the province. He also promised to accept the return of any Russian product and said he “stands with Ukraine, its people and the Ukrainian Canadian community here in Ontario.”
In Grand Rapids, Quay said he may never sell Russian products again. And he went a step further: “I ordered a Ukrainian flag, and it will go up next week.”
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