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Employees at Imperial Beverage are putting in extra hours to ensure retailers are well-stocked ahead of small family gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has led to more people drinking in the comfort and safety of their homes. According to IRI, a data analytics and market research company, alcohol sales are up 21% at grocery stores at 17% at liquor stores compared to this time last year. Traditionally, the stretch between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve is the busiest stretch of the year for wine sales.

“We are proud to provide a safe working environment for all of our employees so they can ensure retailers’ shelves are stocked with reds, whites, and rosé and Michiganders can celebrate safely at small family gatherings this holiday season,” said Joe Cekola, president of Imperial Beverage. “From the front office and the warehouse to our sales team and delivery drivers, our entire team is committed to ensuring consumers’ favorite wines and champagnes are on store shelves.”

As Michigan’s COVID-19 cases continued to surge, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recently extended its epidemic order. One of the recommendations made by the governor and public health officials was to keep holiday gatherings small if they happen at all.

“At Imperial Beverage, our employees are taking the necessary steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 — including wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and washing our hands frequently — so you can enjoy the holidays with your immediate family,” Cekola said. “Michigan’s wine distributors work hard to ensure retailers across the state have a wide variety of wines produced right here in Michigan, across the country and around the world. As Michiganders raise a glass to their loved ones virtually this holiday season, chances are they can all be drinking the same wine no matter how far apart they are thanks to a three-tier system that promotes fairness and a level playing field.”

The Michigan wine industry and its nearly 150 wineries generate more than $5 billion for the state’s economy annually. Michigan currently ranks in the Top 10 for wine production and is the fourth-largest grape-growing state in the country.

Imperial Beverage is a long-standing member of the Michigan beverage distribution community. Established in 1933 after the repeal of prohibition and purchased by Kalamazoo’s Cekola family in 1984, Imperial has grown from a one county beer distributor to a top 10 statewide beer, wine, and spirits wholesaler. With over 300 employees and 4 locations in Kalamazoo, Livonia, Traverse City, and Ishpeming, Imperial provides statewide coverage that serves every Michigan county, every week, all year long.

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