Does it “say” something when you patronize a liquor store?

Dana Hill Liquors Sign
I recently had a conversation with a friend that stuck with me. I mentioned I was going to stop by my neighborhood liquor store for some, as I call it, “Eric’s Pain Go Bye-Bye Juice.”

“Oh, you shouldn’t do that,” she remarked.

After repeatedly saying that, no, I didn’t have a problem, she stopped me to say:

“No, what I mean is that when you patronize those places, you are supporting them and all the things that come along with them.”

She then listed off a litany of issues: serving the obviously intoxicated, loitering, drug activity, petty crime–all things that she felt gravitated around the liquor store. Her logic: get rid of the store, get rid of the problem. If you can’t get rid of the store, at least don’t shop there.

I had a different view. I think its naive to think that all those problems “go away” if a store isn’t there. All those things will still happen, just perhaps not in that location. So, if that’s the case, why would patronizing it make any difference?

Therefore, shopping at said liquor store is not a tacet endorsement of all those horrible things she mentioned.

What do you think? Who is right? Or, more than likely, is neither of us right?

97 Comment

  • That is one of the most asinine things I have ever heard!! Thanks for making me laugh on this dreary day!

    • I agree. Plenty of neighborhoods, in DC and elsewhere, don’t have major problems with drunkness, loitering, drug acitvities and crime, but they still have liquor stores.

      Anyway, I’m wondering what her solution is. Stick to $10 G&T at the local watering hole? Drive out the the ABC store in Virginia? Order booze online? Only go to frou-frou wine shops that criminals wouldn’t patronnize? Don’t drink at all?

      • There are problem liquor stores and good liquor stores. The good ones care about their impact on the community — they’re not just looking for a quick buck at any cost.

        What you’re doing by not patronizing certain stores is rewarding the community-minded ones.

        Also, you’re minimizing the number of liquor stores. As much as I love booze myself, I know my neighborhood doesn’t need 5 liquor stores. Could I use 5 bodegas that maybe sell beer? Hell yes. Do you need that many liquor stores? Hell no — unless you’re a serious alcoholic (which, incidentally, many of the patrons of the problem liquor stores happen to be — non-functional alcoholics).

  • I don’t understand the question. Where else am I supposed to get my liquor? I don’t think your friend and I would get along very well.

  • If you don’t go to the liquor store to get your liquor, where’s it gonna come from???

    There is something to be said for not having the associated ills of the liquor store in YOUR neck of the hood, so I suppose that’s what your friend was getting at when she said it would be better if your corner store closed. I agree with you though that closing one probably just pushes any associated crime/loitering to the next nearest one. Closing your corner store won’t solve the overall problem, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing to push the problem a few more blocks away from where you live.

    • Agreed. Nothing wrong with pushing the problem a few blocks away.

      Many will argue that it doesn’t actually solve the problem, and I agree with them. But if the problem isn’t a problem that I see everyday, then I won’t care as much about it.

    • Yes, lets force the closing of a store that is likely the owner and employees sole source of income, because us white people don’t like having to look at homeless people or drunks. Who cares that the family who owns it will starve? It’s so much more important that your neighborhood in the middle of the city be more like the suburb you grew up in so you can be more comfortable.

      • Those stores are parasites, who cares about the owners.

        • You say parasite, I say they provide a product that many people buy and enjoy.

          Is my neighborhood dry cleaner a “parasite”? The corner taqueria?

          • No one dies of liver cirrhosis from getting their dry cleaning. No one goes home and beats their children after getting stuffed on tacos.

            Your position is naive.

          • i consistently beat my kids after eating tacos. and my washing machine gave me gonorrhea

          • I care about the owners. A family friend owns one in DC and does his best to keep it as nice as possible. And yes, he volunteers within the community.

            Anonymous 4:22, I believe that’s where “personal responsibility” comes in. Taco restaurants, if you overdo it, cause obesity, which causes a huge drain on the resources of the healthcare system. Dry cleaners frequently use toxic chemicals. YOUR position is naive.

      • I am ok with the stores do a good legal business and keeping the neighborhood and store fronts clean (after all I have to do the same with my house.)

        However you argument of a family without just doesn’t cut it. A sucessful drug dealer could say the same for his family…

        I doubt the family would starve but rather just relocate their store.

        Be Real. A little drama goes a long way but come on…

      • Suburbs?

        This type of argument (city is gritty/burbs are clean) is soooo 1985. It’s like saying that cities are filled with diversity and burbs are homogoneous. B.S! If you want diversity, you go to Bailey’s Crossroads in VA. I’ve never seen women in full chadors in D.C., but I see them there. Large Indian community, try Reston. Want Korean, go to Annandale. How about siting in traffic forever and having your house spraypainted with graffiti, head out to Fairfax.

        I say move the gritty liquor stores to the burbs with all the other grit.

      • “don’t like having to look at homeless people or drunks”

        Tip: not exclusive to white people. *Most* people prefer not to see sidewalks strewn with drunks.

  • I too am a bit confused. Not all liquor stores serve obviously intoxicated people and create problems for the community, but some do, don’t give your money to those stores.

    For example, in Bloomingdale, shop at Bloomingdale Liquors at 1st and RI Ave, avoid Sunset Liquors at 1st and Fl. Ave like the rat-infested plague that it is.

    • yup, that’s what we do at my house.

    • Word.

      I actually go out of my way to NOT buy wine/beer/booze by my work in midtown so I can buy it at B’dale Liquor and Windows and support the neighborhood guys. And I NEVER buy it in VA or MD, I want DC proper to get the tax money.

      I reckon responsible proprietorship, patronage and neighbor involvement are much better ways to go than shutting your eyes.

  • claire

    “After repeatedly saying that, no, I didn’t not have a problem” . . . so you’re admitting that you have a problem? Good job, that’s the first step.

  • That is the dumbest thing I have ever read. Does your friend wear a big, black, rimmed hat with giant belt buckle and burn people at the stake for witchcraft too?

  • Yes, you should not patronize businesses that attract druggies and winos like liquor stores, chinese take out, and crappy bodegas.

  • Judging by the logic of her argument, it seems that your friend might be one of the obviously intoxicated people the liquor store serves.

  • I’m already annoyed that I have to walk two and a half blocks to the closest liquor store. I’d like more to open please. And to be open on Sundays too, please.

    Captcha: HATE


  • Beware of supporting your local Whole Foods –> yuppies, lawyers, and soccer moms can’t be too far behind

  • So where, exactly, does Miss Puritan suggest you purchase liquor?

  • Liquor stores are small businesses. I try to get my wine from my neighborhood liquor store instead of the grocery store – they actually have better or at least comparable prices and I’d rather support a business owner than the big chain grocery.

    I don’t notice my liquor store being a magnet for any of the issues listed in the OP.

    • They’re also parasites on the AA community. They destroy neighborhoods by enabling addiction.

    • Your liquor store may not create problem. Other liquor stores in other neighborhoods — yes, they do. If your liquor store doesn’t create problems, you should have no qualms picking up something there.

  • Even if you close that liquor, the listed issues will just occur in another location. It is naive to think that that getting rid of one location will omit a series of issues all together. The loitering, drug activity, petty crime etc. are all highly adaptable happenings, they will just find a new home (i.e. in front of a certain CVS).

    On the topic of “obviously intoxicated”, couldn’t the same argument be made for all bars? Furthermore, these issues occur everywhere, I think the liquor store is just the most obvious of all locations.

    • Bars should stop serving drunks too.

    • That’s simply not true. To begin with, the whole it’ll move a couple blocks over” is a both a fair *and* a strong argument — who wouldn’t want loitering drunks to be a couple blocks away rather than leaning against their gate?

      Secondly, fewer liquor stores in certain locations will absolutely reduce the overall amount drunkenness across the city. Homeless/hard up people tend to primarily cluster near where social services are offered — that’s how they eat, after all. If there are liquor stores near where they eat, a certain percentage of them will spend the time in between meals getting wasted. You remove the liquor stores they can afford, you reduce the number of drunks. They don’t have the ability to commute to another neighborhood, where they can buy booze in between meals.

      • Well, this offers two other premises:
        1. Close social service centers.
        2. Jack the prices of booze to a level no one but the new urban elite can afford. 22$ a 6 pack and 30$ for a pint sounds about right.

        Drunks will follow the drink, like druggies follow the drugs and johns follow the hookers.

        If they want it, they will travel for it.

        • Not true. There’s a difference between putting a liquor store on the same block as a homeless shelter and a liquor store 5 blocks away. Do you see how one of those two stores will attract far more homeless patrons? Put the liquor store 10 blocks away, even fewer clients from the shelter will patronize it. See the pattern?

          Not all drinkers are equal in degree. Some will gladly take a drink when it shows up in their lap, so to speak, where they wouldn’t otherwise. This creates a situation where a casual drinker becomes a habitual drinker, by virtue of it being easy for them to get a drink. If it’s harder to get a drink, fewer homeless people will become hard core alcoholics.

          The point is that homeless folks do not flourish when a very cheap liquor store is put next door to their shelter or soup kitchen. If you’d like to argue otherwise, have at it — but I think you’re going to have a very hard time.

  • yes, it does say something. it says, “i drink liquor”.

  • Like corner stores I patronize one over the other because it’s nicer and I like the owners/selection better. But to not go to one at all… why that’s just preposterous! In my case I go to Giant Liquor on Ga Ave because there’s no glass cage (throwback to last week’s post)and I like the selection even though Lion’s Liquor is closer.

    • Didn’t Lion’s close down? I DO liek Giant Liquor better, though. Really, I head over to Cleveland Park Wine and SPirits on Connecticut Ave. every couple weeks and stock up, and they deliver too!!

    • Good news — word on the street is that Lion’s closed to renovate! I’m hoping that means no more cage.

  • Sounds like your friend needs a drink.

  • Dear God, where are you supposed to get your booze???

  • I like Liquor

  • OP: Please tell your friend to read this post and comment thread, and then to write in to be subjected to full-on PoPville mockathon.

  • I JUST saw this sign in Cambridge this weekend! YAY BOOZE!

  • I would hate to see Lee Irving Liquors or Sportsman’s in Mt. Pleasant close. My dog used to love to go with me to Lee Irving because she knew she would always get a treat. She eventually had to go into treatment. Just kidding on the last part!

  • It says “I plan on exchanging money for alcohol”

    • Technically I don’t think you’re patronizing the store until the money-for-alcohol (or cigarettes, tonic water, lotto tickets) transaction actually takes place.

  • Spend your money with an eye toward the consequences. Lots of people do. People oppose sweatshops in China, puppy mills, GMO milk, Alberta tar sands, non-fair trade t-shirts, hemp bracelets and many other things. You can oppose liquor stores in Petworth too based on the things they cause or enable in the marketplace or as a byproduct of their actions.

    I think there’s a chance you are giving money to a place that does badly by alcoholics. Lord knows, many neighborhoods in DC didn’t have much else besides liquor stores open for many years and it’s not like those places succeeded in the mid-1980s by offering luxury beverages to gentrifiers.

    There are lots of liquor stores and you can choose whichever you feel is a responsible one.

    • +1 on “There are lots of liquor stores and you can choose whichever you feel is a responsible one.”

      The corner store at the bottom of my street is the source of most of the litter I see along my block — empty bottles, lottery tickets, snack wrappers, etc. Why would I want to give money to a place that’s a source of things I don’t like?

      Yes, the core problem is the people who shop there and the behaviors (drunkenness, littering) that they engage in… but the corner store facilitates it.

      In nicer neighborhoods, the presence of liquor stores, etc. doesn’t necessarily lead to drunkenness and littering, but in more transitional neighborhoods, it does.

      • How does the store faciliatate it? By selling to customers? Should they not sell to someone, because they MAY litter?

        Churches facilitate self righteous pricks… should people stop going to church?

        • Not a bad idea! Maybe the world should try that for a while, and see if the level of religious hate dies down.

  • “serving the obviously intoxicated”? I thought that was what Adams-Morgan was for!

    It’s not that liquor stores create petty crime, drug activity, etc, it’s that in many DC hoods the only profitable business establishment is a liquor store. People congregate around places where the community intersects. The problem is not the merchandise, it’s urban blight. Please explain the difference between correlation and causation to your friend.

  • The 7-11 at 14th and Columbia would like to have a word with your friend.

  • Tell your friend to loosen up and have a drink.

  • Liq-uor , i barely even know her!

  • You are correct. Your friend is just one more moron who’s always looking for someone to blame rather than accept the notion of personal responsibility for ones actions. You should seriously reconsider your friendship with this person.

  • Seriously – I’m with Matt. Don’t ride the metro, don’t go to CVS, and don’t go to 7-11! You are only encouraging the people that live in the neighborhood to leave their homes and be out where the yuppos might have to interact with them! JEEZ

  • First, the friend is pretty naive. It would take an awful lot of people adopting that attitude to push the problem elsewhere. And it would get worse before it got better. Withdrawing the gentrifier demand would just create a store that catered more to the corner-drunk demand.

    Really, it seems to me that this is how to NIMBY the winos, and the NIMBY approach goes one of two ways. First, there is your friend’s strategy, which is unlikely to work. But you theoretically might starve the store of its upmarket demand and get your liquor elsewhere, like at a county-run ABC in MoCo or Arlington. Nothing wrong with this, it just requires a lot of pre-meditation for your drinking. Or (2) the upmarket demand, which probably is a far greater source of revenue to the proprietor, starts to communicate it wants a little nicer venue. Why don’t you just tell the shopkeep to stop selling singles or really crappy vodka in swig bottles or you’ll stop shopping there? Seems to me that’s much more likely to place the onus on the store to monitor/mold its clientele and not serve the winos.

    • I think this “win-win” process whereby yuppies buy fancy liquor and wine and the proprietor then upgrades the store has happened all over DC.

      Look at Best-In liquors on P Street.

  • Who knew that Carrie Nation was still around? Believe me, the two liquor stores and several corner stores on the 17th Street strip are not the source of any problems. When it comes to “serving the obviously intoxicated, loitering, drug activity, petty crime–all things that she felt gravitated around the liquor store” that’s the business of the many bars and restaurants in that area. Should we close those too? Sure, if you have problems, work to resolve the problem, but don’t assume every liquor store is a den of iniquity.

  • A) We tried getting rid of the liquor stores once, it was called “Prohibition”. A good time was had by all, and crime and poverty simply vanished.

    B) This is a classic case of categorical thinking: Alki bums drink booze that comes from liquor stores, ergo liquor stores create alki bums.

    The lesson my friends is: Bootlegging and bathtub gin will end unemployment and no more homeless. Win Win! Vote Roosevelt!

  • What your friend needs are drugs, in addition to a drink. She’s probably the same idiot who posted a lot of crap about The Enterprise opening on Georgia and Hobart Place earlier this week. So, if she needs drugs, start looking around there…I might be on hand to provide some when not listening to jazz in my sportcoat. Haha!

  • I think your friend has a point to the extent that she can fault that particular liquor store for the problems she identifies. With the exception of selling alcohol to someone who is obviously intoxicated, I don’t think she can. Your friend may not know this, but loitering is not illegal in DC. As Police Chief Lanier wrote in response to a piece in the City Paper called “The Right to Loiter,” “D.C. does not have general loitering laws, as general loitering laws have been widely found to be unconstitutional.” If the police can’t stop people from standing on the sidewalk outside of a liquor store, what’s the owner supposed to do? And if the police won’t stop people standing on the sidewalk in front of a store from engaging in criminal activity, what’s the owner supposed to do about it?

    • It’s still illegal to be drunk in public and it’s illegal to consume alcohol in public. Any business owner can refuse service to anyone who’s a public nuisance.

  • Spoken like a room full of 20 year olds.

    I can’t believe how unbelievably naive everyone becomes when issues start hitting their own lives. Alcoholism is a disease and an addiction. Providing the vehicle for someone’s addiction for your own profit is asinine. Each of those people is someone’s dad or brother or husband or wife and could be raising their kids or helping out a neighborhood instead of getting lit and pissing and littering all over it. Also, there’s no such thing as ‘personal responsibility’ once you’re addicted. There’s just access to your addiction or treatment.

    • Spoken by a child of a drunk.

      Funny, but the only treatment for this “disease” is self-control. ‘Personal responsibility’ IS THE ONLY TREATMENT.

      Being an addict could be a symptom of mental illness or an outward manifestation of a genetic predisposition – society as yet does not know why some become addicts and some do not.

      But what we do know is the only thing that allows an addict to become a recovering addict is a personal decision to stop abusing the substance they were previously abusing and to pick up no others in its place.

    • saf

      Uh-huh, but not all who drink alcohol are alcoholics.

      And I am well over 40, thanks.

    • “Providing the vehicle for someone’s addiction for your own profit is asinine.”

      This comment is asinine. Newsflash: The sale of alcohol is legal.

      You’re seriously arguing for Prohibition?

      Please deport yourself to Saudi Arabia

  • I don’t totally understand, but do you think she is mostly referring to those stores that sell singles?

  • I have read the issue and bypassed all comments: It is a combination of both. I strongly support businesses that support a community. A supporting business is always willing to improve along with the community that it serves. Then there are those that just sit there and don’t change and YES they call on the same old 20 year(AKA Marion Barry ERA)crime/issue customer. So support that business (liquor Store)that daily is sweeping the front door, changing the storefronts, taking out those Lazy Susan(s).
    Businesses running on CASIO Registers are still running their business off your DC Sales Tax Income, those that prefer cash over credit card, those that give you a minimum CHARGE amount on your card. But be nice and gently ask them to change, give them a chance, or two. But let them know your intentions if they don’t.
    So Get rid off their business attitude and not their business, as keep in mind most Liquors store owner are not Business graduates. Though they are very capable of teaching a few of those Graduates a thing or two…or three. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THEM.
    And those corner stores that pretend what a Hoppy beer tastes like, definitely do not go there, under any CASK situation/necessity.

  • “The problem with the world is that everyone is a few drinks behind.”
    Humphrey Bogart

  • Getting rid of liquor stores will stop alcoholism just like banning guns stops gun violence.

  • I kind of tend to agree. Certain stores do not get my business because they are sad and seedy, offer nothing nutritous or healthy, and peddle 40s and Blunts. There are some stores that manage not to be a depressing influence, like the AB Liquors in Adams Morgan which is well lit and spiffy or the Yes Market which has beer but lots of other good stuff too. That’s why I don’t patronize the sad little beer store across the street from the stinky Safeway.

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