Businesses across the Carolinas boycotting Russian vodka, promoting Ukrainian brands

Some local business owners across the Carolinas are showing support for Ukraine by boycotting Russian vodka.
Southern Spirits removed most Russian vodka from its shelves, replacing it with Ukranian-made liquor in response to ongoing conflict between the nations.
Published: Feb. 28, 2022 at 5:30 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 28, 2022 at 5:34 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Some local business owners across the Carolinas are showing support for Ukraine by boycotting Russian vodka.

These businesses started doing this even before Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive order that directs the North Carolina ABC Commission to review its list of approved products for any produced by Russian Entities and to suspend the approval of such products as quickly as practicable.

Related: N.C. Gov. Cooper orders state agencies to review contracts, terminate agreements with Russian entities

Don Podrebarac, the president of Southern Spirits in Indian Land, said he made the call to cancel upcoming shipments from Russia last week.

He says they will finish selling their current inventory, but replaced displays of Deep Blue Russian Vodka, which is their number one seller, with Ukranian Kozak vodka.

Related: N.C. senator pens letter to ABC board asking to suspend sales of Russian vodka in the state

Robin Witt told WBTV she is not a huge vodka drinker, but when she saw a post on social media that Southern Spirits would start replacing Russian vodka with more Ukrainian vodka, she decided to show up.

“My father was in the air force for 20 years and he flew KC135s that refueled the bombers during the Cold War, and I grew up where we had bomb shelters in our backyard,” Witt said. “Putin wants to take over Europe and it can’t be allowed to happen.”

Podrebarac is putting his money where his mouth is.

“The Russian vodka is done,” he said. “Until Ukraine is free and there is a change in the regime in Russia, we are not going to support Russian products to spend money back to a country that means ill will to this world.”

He’s not alone.

Chef Jamie Lynch of Charlotte restaurants Church and Union and La Belle Helene posted on Instagram that they also removed all Russian products. The post reads: “We have removed all Russian product from our restaurants! Until Russia aborts it’s illegal invasion of Ukraine I urge everyone to boycott every Russian import to the US.”

Podrebarac hopes more business owners do the same.

“In business you need to make the right decisions and do the right things and it’s not always about just making money,” he said.

Podrebarac ordered two more brands of Ukrainian vodka that he hopes will arrive later this week.

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