Sharkey’s, beverage distributor disagree over toy donations |

Sharkey’s, beverage distributor disagree over toy donations

by Linda Hiller, staff writer

A disagreement over donations to a Christmas toy collection means the Anheuser-Busch taps at Sharkey’s casino are dry.

Mashelle Begovich says she’s pulling the plug on Anheuser-Busch products because she thinks the beverage distributor could be more generous for the upcoming Christmas Toy Run.

But Capital Beverage owner Kurt Brown says Begovich has refused all his company’s efforts to participate in this year’s run, scheduled Saturday.

“For the second year in a row, they said they will not participate,” Begovich said. “We have many distributors, and I usually hit them up for a raffle prize for the Toy Run – all of them participate. Last year, I went and saw them at Capital Beverage, and all they donated was two Budweiser hats from 1996 and a few Budweiser T-shirts.”

Brown said he hadn’t been personally approached by Begovich this year, but that his salesman found a flier announcing the Toy Run at the casino recently. He said he was under the impression that Begovich was not interested in donations from Capital Beverage based on the reaction he got from her last year.

“Last year, after we gave her those items for the toy run, she returned them, so I personally went down there and tried to find out what the problem was,” Brown said. “She swore at me, and said she’d never do business with us again – she all but threw me out. I’ve been in this business for 29 years and that’s the worst I’ve been treated by a customer.”

Begovich said other comparable companies donate far more.

“Coors gave us 80 T-shirts and 80 baseball hats, blow-up footballs and lots of other stuff,” she said. “Miller’s gave me 10 neon signs, and some of their cut glass, and I have Heineken umbrellas – what I got from Anheuser-Busch really pales compared to that. I know I can be a pain, but right now I’m so mad I can’t get over it.”

n Hundreds brought toys. Last year’s Toy Run included nearly 300 motorcyclists who came to Sharkey’s, each donating a toy or food item for Project Santa Claus and the Carson Valley Community Food Closet.

Each donor received a raffle ticket to win one of the prizes, such as the items donated by Anheuser-Busch, Coors, and Miller. The beer items are not given to the children, Begovich stressed, and the Toy Run participants are not given free beer.

“We give them free food and I bring in a band – it costs us well into the thousands of dollars to do this, but it’s a thank-you to them and it’s where my heart is,” Begovich said. “Last year we had 700 toys, and 483 kids here got the toys.”

Begovich said Tuesday that she was removing all Anheuser-Busch items from the casino, including the draft beer and the keg tappers used to draw the beer.

“I have three rooms of donated stuff here for the Toy Run – there’s not a business in town that has not given me something – car washes, toys, chimney cleanings and more. Everybody’s been so generous. This is for the kids, after all.”

n Willing to amend. After being informed of Begovich’s intentions to pull her business from Capital Beverages, Brown said he was willing to donate items to Begovich personally if she would accept them politely.

“I don’t want her to swear at me, though,” he said.

“Every year we give to the 20/30 Club as a sponsor for Carson Valley Days, and we also sponsored the Candy Dance by providing equipment for the Genoa Fire Department’s fund-raising booth,” said Capital Beverage sales manager Steve Hotho. “So it isn’t like we don’t donate to the community in Carson Valley.”

Begovich said Budweiser is probably the most popular beer that Sharkey’s customers ask for, but she said she’ll buy it by the can at the grocery stores if she needs to, rather than deal with Capital Beverages.

“I only ask for something once a year – for the toy run – it’s the only one we do,” she said. “The least they could do is come up with something nice for the kids.”

Brown said his company supplies every store in the Carson Valley with Anheuser-Busch products, including the grocery stores.

“Then I’ll go to Costco in Reno if I have to,” Begovich said. “Bud is our top seller, so it’s going to cause us some serious heartache, but we’re the little guys – if I was Harrah’s Club and I said something like I was going to pull my business, they’d have been here in a heartbeat. But these guys responded after the fact. I know I’m hard to handle when I get upset, but we’re the little guy and we have to stand up for what we believe.”