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N.C. lottery searches out more stores

North Carolina LotteryNorth Carolina Lottery: N.C. lottery searches out more stores

Amid sluggish sales, officials hope to beef up the number of outlets

Griswold's Family Produce sells honeydew and dreams.

The combination produce stand and old country store south of Monroe sells apples to zucchini, homemade ice cream and, now, N.C. lottery tickets. Pick up a bag of golden delicious and a chance to become a millionaire.

Griswold's is one of the newest, and less typical, retail outlets for Powerball or scratch-and-win tickets. It's also the sort of high-traffic, well-located outlet that lottery officials are seeking in a new push to sign up more ticket sellers who can help boost sluggish sales.

North Carolina had 1 lottery retailer for about every 1,500 residents at the end of June, proportionally fewer outlets than most neighboring states and fewer than the average for North American lotteries.

The average among U.S. and Canadian lotteries was about one outlet for every 1,300 people, and across the state line, there was one retailer for every 1,200 South Carolinians, according to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries.

Also, the N.C. lottery's base of retailers has dipped in recent months. The game started with about 5,000 locations, peaked at about 5,900 and now has some 5,750, according to lottery officials.

Lottery leaders launched a recruitment drive in September, redirecting their sales staff to focus more on bringing additional retailers into the game's network.

Tom Shaheen, the lottery's executive director, wants to expand to 6,200 retailers by next summer.

"It's something you have to grow," Shaheen said, adding that the N.C. game is young compared to neighboring states. "I'm comfortable where we are at this moment. Would I be comfortable (with the same numbers) down the road? No."

The need for more retailers helps explain the overall sales difficulties the lottery is enduring. Instant, or scratch-and-win, ticket sales have declined, although they generally drive the growth in lotteries nationally.

The lottery raised $313 million for education in the fiscal year that ended June 30, compared to the $425 million that the General Assembly budgeted. Shaheen warned early on, though, that the legislature's figure was too high.

Recruiting more retailers

Twenty months after the lottery's launch, lottery executives say the retailers who signed up at the beginning have grown comfortable with the system and require less attention from the lottery's sales representatives. That frees up the sales staff to find new outlets."The first year and a half, our focus was on our base (of retailers)," said Barry Shead, the lottery's director of field sales, working in the Charlotte area last week. "We had to train our retailers, teach them how to sell this stuff. (Now) we have to move more into really recruiting more retailers."

The retailer roundup follows more than a year of overall decline in lottery sales, mostly among scratch tickets, which account for a majority of sales. Lottery executives are pumping more prize money into the scratch games to help rub away the reputation the lottery has gained for selling fewer winning tickets than its neighbors.

Boosting the number of lottery outlets could only help, but the growth isn't obvious yet. The 161 new retailers recruited between July 1 and mid-November works out to slightly fewer per month than the 227 who came on board during the first half of the year.

The lottery team didn't recruit retailers during the game's start-up. They had their hands full with the applications that poured in. Some of those outlets have since bailed out, while new ones have signed up.

Location, location, location

Some retailers decide lottery sales don't generate enough business. Sometimes those outlets are in locations that are not visible enough or don't get enough traffic passing by, lottery executives said.

Lottery retailers get a 7 percent commission, which is slightly higher than many states, but there are no bonuses for selling winning tickets.

Of the 1,441 outlets whose lottery contracts have been terminated, more than two-thirds were because the business changed owners. The lottery requires new owners to apply to sell, and nearly all do. Among the terminations since the lottery started in March of last year, 404 were at the owner's request. Those retailers consistently said they weren't turning the profit they hoped for.

"We weren't making enough off of it to spend that kind of time" on selling tickets and keeping the books, said Joyce Crisson, an owner of Saunders Furniture Mart, east of Lincolnton.

Donna Greene, owner of Key Largo No. 2 convenience store in Mooresboro, said ticket sales took up time, counter space and customers' money that might be spent on other goods in the store.

"It's very distracting for the employees who have to work it," Greene said. "It takes away from our merchandise."

Greene, who stopped selling tickets about a month ago, said lottery officials had lived up to everything they were supposed to do.

"It just wasn't profitable enough for us," she said.

Shaheen said lotteries generate a normal churn of retailers.

"You sign them up, and then you lose some," Shaheen said. "What happens is people find the lottery is not conducive to their store environment. Maybe there's not enough (customer traffic)."

Shaheen said he talked to an auto parts store owner in the northeast part of the state who was disappointed that he wasn't selling more tickets, but then explained that most of his parts customers order by phone. They don't come into the store and see the lottery tickets.

Or sometimes there's too much of the wrong kind of traffic.

"People would come in with 15 tickets and want you to scan them (to see if they were winners). It was just bottlenecking my store," said Mike Thrift, owner of the Skyline Village Inn in McDowell County, who stopped selling. "And it's just not that much money. It just wasn't worth it to me."

Part of the ongoing recruitment is to find new retailers in prime locations. Shead said his sales staff sometimes has to overcome hesitation by some businesses. The retailers think lottery sales are just for convenience stores, when a gift shop or restaurant, for example, can sell just as successfully.

Griswold's Family Produce fits that profile. The store sells its veggies, fancy jellies and other gifts from its perch on U.S. 601 between Monroe and the S.C. state line, the path to Myrtle Beach. The store started selling lottery tickets late last summer.

"We catch a lot of out-of-state travelers," said Christy Griswold, one of the store's owners. She also noted that regular customers had encouraged her to sell tickets.

How are lottery sales? "It's holding its own," she said.

Handicapping the numbers

Two restrictions included in the legislation creating the lottery hinder retailer recruitment, according to Shaheen.

No bonus to retailers for selling a winning ticket is one of them.

"You can go across the (S.C.) state line and they'll pay you a percentage" for selling a winner, said Gale Garrett, manager of Jack's Jewelry & Loan, in Kings Mountain, who recently stopped selling lottery tickets.

Second, the lottery can provide only so much advertising, such as signs, for retailers because the lottery is limited to 1 percent of sales revenue on all advertising.

"It's sometimes more difficult to reach out to potential players," Shaheen said.

The General Assembly would have to endorse any changes in incentives or advertising when it convenes in May, but there is little indication that either is in the works.

Lottery Post Staff

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18 comments. Last comment 9 years ago by Tenaj.
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New Member
Greensboro, NC
United States
Member #21429
September 8, 2005
14 Posts
Offline
Posted: November 23, 2007, 7:02 pm - IP Logged

Unless they've changed the rules, the reason retailers aren't so willing to get involved w/the lottery is they get NOTHING out of it! It's just a hassle to them. That's obvious because in many many stores, the clerks' attitudes let you know they's just as soon not mess with selling you a ticket. NC needs to make some changes!

    ConstantlyB's avatar - chi
    Wilson
    United States
    Member #54516
    August 21, 2007
    2802 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: November 23, 2007, 7:36 pm - IP Logged

    I Agree!

    "MAKE THAT MONEY YA'LL"

    wisdom from Tyler Perry's Madea:"It doesn't matter what people call you....it's what you answer to."

      Tenaj's avatar - michellea
      Charlotte NC
      United States
      Member #17406
      June 18, 2005
      4053 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: November 23, 2007, 7:38 pm - IP Logged

      NC don't need more stores.  They need a better lottery.

      takeemtothebank

        rteague's avatar - Lottery-062.jpg
        North Carolina
        United States
        Member #54608
        August 24, 2007
        1181 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: November 23, 2007, 10:21 pm - IP Logged

        Unless they've changed the rules, the reason retailers aren't so willing to get involved w/the lottery is they get NOTHING out of it! It's just a hassle to them. That's obvious because in many many stores, the clerks' attitudes let you know they's just as soon not mess with selling you a ticket. NC needs to make some changes!

        I Agree!

        yes my experience with the retailers in my town is TERRIBLE !!!!

        they act as if you are a bother,the make you wait till no other customers are in line before they will help you,and for the most part the NC Lottery Retailers in this town just suck..I have emailed the NCEL about it several times but it hasn't done any good...Therefore I only go to 1 store now,and they WELCOME me every night...But it's really sad that most stores act the way they do,because when I "was" playing scratch tickets i enjoyed taking a day and riding around playing..But I DON"T play scratch tickets any longer because they don't PAY in NC !!!! 

        "Locked and Loaded"

          mistory's avatar - leaf
          NC
          United States
          Member #46741
          September 26, 2006
          653 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: November 23, 2007, 10:41 pm - IP Logged

          NC don't need more stores.  They need a better lottery.

          I Agree! They need to get a midday draw on the pick 3 and add midday and evening pick 4. Also they need to draw at an earlier time for evening draw. Get a whole new bunch of scratch cards with better pays and put a multiplier on the Pick 5. And pay those stores a percentage of hits. Heck I would not want to do all that work for nothing either!!! NC is clueless!!!

           

          Thats mi story and I'm sticking with it....
            JordanT1021's avatar - Lottery-062.jpg
            North Carolina
            United States
            Member #53121
            June 24, 2007
            6500 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: November 23, 2007, 10:56 pm - IP Logged

            I Agree! They need to get a midday draw on the pick 3 and add midday and evening pick 4. Also they need to draw at an earlier time for evening draw. Get a whole new bunch of scratch cards with better pays and put a multiplier on the Pick 5. And pay those stores a percentage of hits. Heck I would not want to do all that work for nothing either!!! NC is clueless!!!

            I agree!

            pick 3 day - 1:59

            pick 3 night - 9:59

            pick 4 - same as pick 3

            pick 5 - same as 3 & 4

             

            try to have a lotto with south carolina called the " carolina lottery "

              JordanT1021's avatar - Lottery-062.jpg
              North Carolina
              United States
              Member #53121
              June 24, 2007
              6500 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: November 23, 2007, 10:57 pm - IP Logged

              i hate the 11:22 drawing

                Tenaj's avatar - michellea
                Charlotte NC
                United States
                Member #17406
                June 18, 2005
                4053 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: November 23, 2007, 11:00 pm - IP Logged

                i hate the 11:22 drawing

                We ought to start sending them emails.

                takeemtothebank

                  JordanT1021's avatar - Lottery-062.jpg
                  North Carolina
                  United States
                  Member #53121
                  June 24, 2007
                  6500 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: November 23, 2007, 11:05 pm - IP Logged

                  something has to be done.

                   

                  pick 4 better come by jan 1 or i will flip. i wonder what the hold up is? i called last week again and they said summer time next year

                    mistory's avatar - leaf
                    NC
                    United States
                    Member #46741
                    September 26, 2006
                    653 Posts
                    Offline
                    Posted: November 24, 2007, 2:36 pm - IP Logged

                    We ought to start sending them emails.

                    Yes definately!!! I've sent several asking when they will get something and they say when the lottery head thinks its time..Well we should all start sending them emails like Tenaj said and get our friends to start and so forth..Maybe they just don't know what we want. It would not hurt to request that they send our emails to the head dude, I forget his name.

                     

                    Thats mi story and I'm sticking with it....
                      Tenaj's avatar - michellea
                      Charlotte NC
                      United States
                      Member #17406
                      June 18, 2005
                      4053 Posts
                      Offline
                      Posted: November 24, 2007, 3:04 pm - IP Logged

                      Yes definately!!! I've sent several asking when they will get something and they say when the lottery head thinks its time..Well we should all start sending them emails like Tenaj said and get our friends to start and so forth..Maybe they just don't know what we want. It would not hurt to request that they send our emails to the head dude, I forget his name.

                      We can also write intelligent Letters to the Editor of this story and state our opinions to why we as players think the sales are sluggish.  From the Observer? (this source says Lottery Post Staff) 

                      takeemtothebank

                        GottaBLucky's avatar - avatar 3026.gif
                        Raleigh NC
                        United States
                        Member #18610
                        July 15, 2005
                        363 Posts
                        Offline
                        Posted: November 24, 2007, 3:11 pm - IP Logged

                        NC don't need more stores.  They need a better lottery.

                        Nuff Said Tenaj!!!  Couldn't have said it better myself!!!  I Agree!

                          mistory's avatar - leaf
                          NC
                          United States
                          Member #46741
                          September 26, 2006
                          653 Posts
                          Offline
                          Posted: November 26, 2007, 9:31 am - IP Logged

                          We can also write intelligent Letters to the Editor of this story and state our opinions to why we as players think the sales are sluggish.  From the Observer? (this source says Lottery Post Staff) 

                          Yep I read this article in the observer. How can we put a letter together and be annon? Would they take that?

                           

                          Thats mi story and I'm sticking with it....
                            Tenaj's avatar - michellea
                            Charlotte NC
                            United States
                            Member #17406
                            June 18, 2005
                            4053 Posts
                            Offline
                            Posted: November 26, 2007, 3:03 pm - IP Logged

                            Yep I read this article in the observer. How can we put a letter together and be annon? Would they take that?

                            Nope, you can't be anonymous.  They won't take it.

                            takeemtothebank