York County SC liquor store gun line fired at vodka in Russia

Vodka shots took on a whole new meaning in Lake Wylie as a liquor store joined in support of Ukraine’s bid to repel the Russian invasion.

On Wednesday, Lake Wylie Liquors posted a video on its Facebook page in which nine men and women armed with various types of weapons fired at a display of vodka bottles in a field. A caption at the start of the video indicates the store’s support for Ukraine. Another towards the end reads “F**K Russia”.

“Here at Lake Wylie Liquors, we support freedom and the people of Ukraine,” the post read. “That’s what we think of Vladie and his vodka.”

Vodka targeting in turkey shoot style takes place with the liquor bottles flanked by an American flag and a Lake Wylie liquor flag. A Mozart piece, “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” by the Austrian composer, serenades the shoot.

Owner Matthew Mugavero said on Thursday that the shooters in the video were shop customers who supported the protest, something he’s been hearing a lot of lately. A client had private property in Lake Wylie for the event. Another runs an armory and organized the filming to promote safety. Customers and the store donated to the Red Cross as part of the protest.

“We try to do what we can to help,” Mugavero said.

Mugavero calls the act a drop in the bucket, but said he would rather destroy Russian vodka from his store than sell it.

“We’ve already paid for it,” he said. “It’s really just me taking a loss on that. We could either throw him down the drain or shoot him. We weren’t going to sell it. We’re never going to bring their stuff again.

Mugavero hopes posting the video online will help refugees, through donations to groups like the Red Cross.

“It’s there to grab attention and ask people to do what they can,” he said.

Protests against Russian vodka have become commonplace since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. In South Carolina, bills have been filed involving business with Russian agencies, including one that would ban liquor stores from selling Russian-made liquor, according to The State.

In North Carolina, Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive order for state entities to review sales that benefit Russian agencies. The National Commission for the Control of Alcoholic Beverages then suspended spirits produced in Russia, according to the Charlotte Observer.

A Google search for “vodka protest” brings up stories of liquor stores and communities across the country dumping or destroying bottles of Russian vodka.

Another local beverage store took a different approach. Sauce Monkey Spirits is the Fort Mill store started by former Charlotte sportscaster Chuck Howard. Sauce Monkey has posted on its social media that it will take months of protests to refuse to buy Russian alcohol, as discarded and destroyed bottles are only costing small business owners in the region since the makers of drinks were paid for months ago.

Sauce Monkey also noted that many of the vodkas sold in its store and others in the region appear to be from Russia, but this is not the case. Sauce Monkey instead offers Ukrainian-made vodka for people who want to support this country.

“The Russians got paid for this vodka probably 8 months ago because a distributor has to pay them to then ship it to the US,” reads a recent Sauce Monkey Facebook post. “So while the sentiment is of course virtuous in all honesty, it doesn’t hurt Russians today. So don’t waste the good vodka.

It’s a similar story with many of the area’s beverage shops. O’Darby’s Liquor Barn in Rock Hill announced in late February that it would stop ordering Russian-branded vodka and only have what was left in the store’s inventory. The store recommended two Ukrainian brand vodkas as a substitute.

On March 8, the United Nations posted on its Facebook page that 2 million people have fled the war in Ukraine, the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

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John Marks graduated from Furman University in 2004 and joined the Herald in 2005. He covers community growth, municipalities, transportation and education primarily in York and Lancaster counties. The Fort Mill native has won dozens of South Carolina Press Association awards and several President McClatchy Awards for news coverage in Fort Mill and Lake Wylie.
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