Village drops all COVID-19 protocols

Mitzi Lane, Tellico Village COO, credits the opening of the online liquor sales to a team effort.

All previously implemented COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted in Tellico Village.

CEO Winston Blazer announced at the May 19 board meeting of the Tellico Village Property Owners Association that operations would return to normal effective Tuesday.

Since the onset of the pandemic, Blazer has given regular operations updates at board meetings regarding Village policies and procedures.

“This applies to face coverings, capacity limits, distancing, etc.,” Blazer said. “You all are very aware of the changes that have come down over the last 30 days from the governor and the state and (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). ... As Rick (Blough, board president) mentioned earlier on, we are returning to normal rapidly.”

Blazer also announced online liquor sales will be available through the Tellico Village website starting Tuesday.

“We do have our online liquor store set up and it’s operational,” Mitzi Lane, Village COO, said. “What you will be looking for as property owners is on our website, … You’ll be able to click a link and go right into our online liquor sales and see all the products that we have. You can choose what you want, be able to order, pay with a credit card, and then you’ll pick it up at the Yacht Club every Friday.”

Lane said the link will be similar to those added to the website during board elections.

Marty Inkrott, board member, asked what Villagers could expect with pricing and whether they will be “comparative.”

Lane said Blazer ordered a bottle from the site cheaper than what he would have found at nearby stores.

“I suspected something different, so I pulled up her prices, which have been marked up, and then I pulled up Total Wine, and for the exact same bottle it was 44-50 cents cheaper than their price, which I found good but surprising,” Blazer said.

In a conversation outside of the meeting, Lane said the initiative was set in motion years ago. In May 2018, legislators passed House Bill 447 and Senate Bill 793, which would allow the POA to operate a liquor store, she said.

“We did a lot of research, a lot of analysis with local liquor store owners, retail package stores, looked at various locations where we might put a liquor store, and we realized, ‘OK, a brick-and-mortar building is not what we need in the Village’,” Lane said. “But we wanted to be able to offer a service to the property owners because the legislators passed the bill for us to be able to do that, so we decided to go with this online liquor sales option.”

Depending on the success of the service, Lane said delivery could be offered in the future — a feature that became popular for numerous businesses during the pandemic. Lane said the POA will continue to offer a small selection of wine and liquor bottles in the Yacht Club reception office.

“It’s perfect timing,” Lane said. “This passed in 2018, and we did a lot of analysis and realized we can make the online sales option work. We’re not going to be able to compete with Total Wine and some of those big liquor stores in the Knoxville and Farragut area. We looked at this option then COVID hit, and we really pushed for it to go through. … Everybody involved, including our CEO Winston Blazer, helping along the way with some of the contacts that he knows in Nashville, and our attorney Kevin Stevens all played a big part in it getting it approved at the state level.”