The county liquor store at 832 Rockville Pike is one of two schedule to close July 1, according to the Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control Credit: Google Streetview

Updated – 4:15 p.m. – The Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control (DLC) announced Monday it will close two retail liquor stores—one in Rockville and the other in Germantown—as part of its store modernization plan.

Both the Rockville store at 832 Rockville Pike and the Germantown store at 20946 Frederick Road are scheduled to close at the end of May.

The closings will cut the total number of retail liquor stores the department operates to 25. All staff members at the two stores closing will be transferred to other locations, according to the DLC. The department plans to host a sale in advance of the stores closing during the month of May.

The department’s retail stores are the only shops in Montgomery County where residents and others can buy bottles of spirits such as whiskey, tequila and vodka. The closures come as some council members have encouraged the department to open more stores or a large superstore as a way to increase the department’s revenue.

The DLC said in a press release it was closing the stores as part of the modernization effort aimed at facilitating the long-term success of the department. Both stores feature outdated designs compared to newer stores that are nearby, according to the department.

The closest existing liquor store to the Rockville Pike location is a store the DLC opened in 2016 at 300 North Washington Street in downtown Rockville, which is about 2 miles away. The closest liquor store to the Germantown location is at 20650 Seneca Meadows Parkway near the Germantown Wegmans. It opened in 2013.

 “One of the DLC’s central goals is to ensure that we are driving profitable sales,” Robert Dorfman, the DLC’s director, said in a statement. “And, in order to do so, we must consider the proximity between stores, our geographic footprint, as well as the appearance and functionality of our stores.”

Dorfman added in an interview Monday that the stores were in close proximity to nearby stores and were cannibalizing each other’s sales. 

“This is a good financial decision based on how those two stores are performing,” Dorfman said. “It’s as simple as that.”

He added that the department is working on opening a 14,000-square-foot superstore as well as developing smaller boutique stores that could open near privately-owned beer and wine stores in the county. The department is also working on a policy to enable privately-owned beer and wine stores to sell alcohol–known as the “agency store” model. He said the policy is taking more time than initially expected to finalize. Last year, he said private stores could begin selling liquor as early as the beginning of this year.

Each year the DLC transfers about $30 million in profit to the county. The department controls the wholesale distribution of alcohol and the retail sale of liquor in Montgomery.