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Things That Make My Head Explode – “Parents occasionally send their children to buy groceries at this store and they don’t want to expose them to an environment where alcohol is being sold”

by Prince Of Petworth June 13, 2017 at 12:30 pm 103 Comments

1701 Corcoran Street, NW

A liquor license placard has been posted at the 17th Street Safeway in Dupont:

“New Class “B” full-service grocery store selling beer and wine.”

And this email from an ANC Commissioner on the Dupont listserv has been causing me incredible agita. Please join me in this discomfort:

“Safeway is undergoing a badly needed renovation and has applied to the DC government for a permit to sell beer and wine. I have been talking to neighbors and many oppose the sale of beer and wine at Safeway.

The main concern is that the store is small and beer and wine will take space otherwise available for groceries. They have found 80 linear feet for beer and wine.

Neighbors want to preserve the 17th St. village and are supportive of the family businesses who run local liquor outlets. We already have plenty of options for beer and wine.

Parents occasionally send their children to buy groceries at this store and they don’t want to expose them to an environment where alcohol is being sold.

The ANC meets next Wednesday [Ed. Note: tomorrow] to consider this issue. (7 pm, 1775 Mass. Ave.) It can support or oppose Safeway’s proposal and its views must be given ‘great weight’ by ABRA. They also have a leading role in negotiating any settlement agreement with Safeway so it’s important that they hear residents’ views. A big turnout at the Wednesday meeting would be great.”

  • VV

    So apparently these children are mature and trustworthy enough to shop and pay for groceries unsupervised, but not mature enough to handle the knowledge that alcohol exists?

    • It’s a slippery slope though. Sure, today they are just selling reasonable amounts of alcohol that someone could consume in moderation, just like the liquor stores and outdoor patio restaurants those children need to walk past (blindfolded, obviously) to get to this Safeway. But tomorrow it could be an open air black market selling everything from heroin-flavored Doritos to weaponized sex workers.

      • NorthByNE

        mmmmm, Heroin-flavored Doritos…..still less addictive than cool ranch!

        • Anon Spock


      • Truxton Thomas

        Next thing you know you’re doing multiple marijuanas per day!

      • Ben

        Here I read this expecting the comment to reference bodegas busted for synthetic marijuana but instead got weaponized sex workers. Well done

  • anon

    this is why this country is going down the tubes. people have kids but they don’t raise adults. and it’s happening across demographic groups in different ways.

    • Anonymous

      If you really think this “concern” is coming from actual parents, then I hope you never have kids.

  • Mike

    “…they don’t want to expose them to an environment where alcohol is being sold.” I’d get off 17th Street then. And then head on out of DC. This is a boozy town.

    • ah

      Really – if they’re mature enough to send them out alone in Dupont Circle, they’re mature enough to see wine and beer on the shelves.

  • Dognonymous

    This would be a perfect troll post if it weren’t real.

    • MadMax

      I know, right? This kinda shit always makes me rethink posts that I previously thought were too ridiculous to be real.

  • DC

    I live on 17th and R and use this Safeway all the time. It’d be nice to have the option to buy beer and wine while grabbing groceries, but I think I’ll still make a point to frequent the Mom & Pop’s nearby. Shout-out to Rosebud and Cairo Liquors!

    • trebek26

      I agree. And as another post to that thread said – this won’t necessarily put those out of business. ONe: if I just need beer/wine, I’m more likely to go to those as opposed to Safeway due to expedience. Also, if you want liquor, you still have to go to those stores. Someone brought up the example of the liquor store next to P st whole foods – that liquor store spiffed up and renovated (I know, that costs money) to still attract new clientele who were going there for the whole foods.

  • Anon

    There are two liquor stores On the other corners of that intersection. I’d be willing to guess that the concern is not from “neighborhood parents” but the biggest competition in the area.

    • AsAMother

      If it’s either liquor store, it’s more like Cairo. The owners at Rosebud frequently have their young children, and cat, working the cash register.

      • TinkerTaylor

        If there’s really a cat working the register I’m immediately giving them all of my alcohol business.

        • Elvis’s Mom


        • dcd

          If you see a cat working the register, I’d say it’s time to cut back on your alcohol consumption.

        • Captain Obvious

          I dunno, I’m not sure I could handle my purchases being judged if its the cat from the 6/12 Popville post…

          • Elvis’s Mom

            That cat is all over verifying your ID

    • Easyenough

      For sure this. I’ve shopped at this Safeway for nine years and have NEVER seen an unaccompanied minor in this store. Seriously, never. Outside on the sidewalk raising funds for stuff at the elementary school, sure. But not in the store.

  • OP Anon

    Serious question: has anyone ever seen a kid wandering around this store by him/herself and buying groceries? I shopped here religiously for 4 years and NEVER saw a kid over the age of 5 in this store. How utterly bizarre.

    • Anon

      Same here. I’ve been going here about 3 yrs and have never seen a kid alone shopping.

    • AsAMother

      I’ve lived in the area for 7 years, and went to that Safeway for 3 years. Not only do I hardly ever recall seeing kids in there by themselves, but you very rarely see any kids in that part of town at all. The residents tend to be 50+ seniors who bought property in the neighborhood decades ago, or young, single 20/30 somethings renting tiny, overpriced studio apartments.

    • ET

      Funny you say that but I saw a brother sister combo at the Harris Teeter on the Hill shopping for eggs and a few other things by themselves and only remember them because it is so rare to see that.

      • OP Anon

        Makes a lot more sense on the Hill, there are definitely older kids in that ‘hood who can run to the corner store by themselves. Kids that are in this grocery are pretty much exclusively babies with their parents.

    • Joshua

      I hardly ever see kids in that neighborhood at all! Everyone around there seems to be either in their 20s or in their 60s.

    • FacePalm

      Nope. Never.

    • ExWalbridgeGuy

      While I haven’t shopped there religiously, I’ve gone to this grocery store every now and then for 15 years and never once seen a kid by themselves in the store (and you would notice something like that instantly in a DC grocery store).

    • Gideon

      Perhaps parents would feel more comfortable sending their children to the store for sundry items if they knew that they would not be forced into a confrontation with Demon Rum himself.

      Gone are the days when parents could let little Ezekiel could hop on the family wagon and join Brothers Obadiah and Amos as they ambled into town without worry, doffing their wide-brimmed hats as they greeted the affable, God-fearing gentry. Today, thanks to the ease through which Liquid Vice is so readily made available to all, reliable sources estimate that a child in Washington, DC will have been drunk on alcohol at least eight times before they enter preschool.

      Permitting the sale of beer and other forms of hard alcohol in a family neighborhood like Dupont Circle is the first step to inviting the Devil into the house, and once he gets in, there’s no getting him out!. Next, we’ll have politicians arguing that it is not necessary to observe the Sabbath and keep it holy, or saying that we should allow electricity and telephones in our homes.

      • Bravo

        You made me snort with laughter. Amazing!!

  • A

    Appears to be more AdMo NIMBYISM here. Good lord.

    • AMDCer

      Except that this in in Dupont.

      • Bobert

        NIMBY gonna NIMBY

    • Ward One Resident

      Get your neighborhoods straight! And just FYI, the Harris Teeter, Safeway and Metro K market in AM all sell hooch.

  • DC

    These arguments were likely made by one of the neighboring liquor stores because they don’t want any increased competition.

    • OP Anon

      This x 1000. Probably a comment submitted by one of the friends/relatives of the liquor store owners. And yeah, those liquor stores charge a pretty penny for a 6-pack that is usually $8 at Harris Teeter.

    • Juantana

      exactly – if you rem the same thing happened from a bodega across from the harris teeter on kalorama – instead of stepping up your game, just try to prevent any competition.

    • unrelated to NIMBY

      Can you blame them? This is why some states have laws against booze in gas stations and groceries. Oh they’ll claim it’s to protect the children, but it’s all about the $. In my native Mass, the liquor stores have built up some sway and have fought to protect their turf. As Omar Little said, “It’s all in the game”.

  • AnonV2

    The first two points are valid concerns and merit discussion on their own. Unfortunately, the inclusion of “What about the kids?!!?” completely torpedoes them and places the entire effort firmly into the Hysterical NIMBY zone.

    • wdc

      My thoughts exactly.

    • Truxton Thomas

      Agree. Never include a weak argument with stronger arguments in the name of quantity—drags down the better points.

    • Tsar of Truxton

      Agreed. I don’t live anywhere near there anymore, but I did live nearby and use this Safeway for the better part of 8 years, and it is tiny. Sure beer and wine would be convenient (and I am a strong proponent of beer, wine, and liquor sales in grocery stores), but I don’t know where they would put it. Also, that fact that the liquor stores sell liquor and lotto would keep them afloat. I hardly ever saw people buying wine at Rosebud or Cairo.

    • dcd

      While I agree that last point is the most ridiculous, the first two aren’t much better. Limiting the inventory of one business to protect another nearby business is pretty ridiculous (any time you are following in the footsteps of Cleveland Park neighbors, you really should stop and reassess). Also, if Safeway thinks it can do better selling beer and wine that [whatever], that’s up to them. The neighbors certainly can make requests re inventory, but using the easily manipulated regulatory body like the ANC is BS.

    • textdoc


  • Effie

    :inserts article on why American youth have binge drinking problems:

    • Elvis’s Mom

      Effie, we all have pain

  • Burt McGurt

    I also fear that children walking around the neighborhood will buy liquor from “the family businesses who run local liquor outlets.” Let’s take away their licenses as well.

  • Former 17th Street Resident

    In defense of the liquor stores — they are perhaps one of the last retail places that hasn’t been eaten by big box or small box retailers. If we want local businesses that hire local people and build local communities we should support them.

    I’ll also echo that, if you send your kid walking down 17th street most days they will learn a lot more about a lot of things perhaps worse than seeing a booze in a store. If you can’t stand to see booze I hear that Mississippi still has a few dry counties.

    • dcd

      So support them. Buy your booze there. But supporting them =/= protectionism. Or shouldn’t, at least.

    • anon

      overpriced small liquor stores only exist in areas where they have protective regulations that keep them from competing with larger retailers. In areas where competition is allowed, the public always chooses the low cost larger retailer.
      I grew up above the family store. I wouldn’t wish a life of long hours, no weekends, and no vacations on anyone.

  • Peter Orvetti

    My sons are 12 and have been going to the CoHi Giant on their own for about a year. This “concern” is absurd. Do these folks not go to restaurants, sports events, family gatherings, and every other place where there’s alcohol?

  • 17thStResident

    Okay, the argument about kids is ridiculous. However, this Safeway is located across the street from Cairo Wine & Liquor (great full liquor store), catty-corner from Prego Again (sells wine and beer), and a block away from Rosebud Liquor (yet another full liquor store). When I think about what this neighborhood needs, more booze does not make this list. As anyone who has ever visited the Soviet Safeway (yup, even our Secretary of State https://www.washingtonian.com/2017/01/04/rex-tillerson-spotted-buying-groceries-soviet-safeway/) knows, they can’t keep the shelves stocked or the lines manageable, even without wine and beer. I don’t see how taking away the already limited space for groceries that they have is going to do anything to benefit anyone except possibly Safeway’s bottom line.

    • Anon

      Safeway’s bottom line will be best-served by stocking items people want to buy. I have no idea what the best mix of produce/dry goods/meat/beer/wine is for this store. I am confident beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Dupont ANC has absolutely no idea what mix is best for consumers in this area.

      Safeway’s interests here are aligned with consumers: they want to sell goods that people want to buy.

  • Rickie S.

    If they don’t want to expose their children to alcohol, they must live a very sheltered life. Do they dine out at restaurants with alcohol? Do they go to sporting events or other events? There are far worse things to be upset about than if a store sells alcohol.

  • Marty

    OTOH, if i could send my kids to BUY beer for me at the store, all would be right with the world.

  • lizcolleena

    I’m just old enough to remember when my older sister and I were sent to the store to grab smokes and beer for our parents. We survived.

    • navyard

      Yep, my grandmother used to send me out to buy her vodka after my mom told the local liquor store to stop delivering. I didn’t have my driver’s license yet so I had to walk. I didn’t know grandma was an alky. If they had told me that instead of just trying to shield me from everything, then I wouldn’t have bought the booze for her.

  • hma

    Can’t be real, right? No one is this stupid. I hope.

  • wfwef

    Ok but said kids have to walk by what, three or four open air bars on the way to the Safeway? Ughhh.

    • wfwef

      Not to mention a liquor store!

  • AnonCT

    Wait – so they never take their kids to restaurants or to family gatherings?

  • MadMax

    So I guess we know what Jason Chaffetz is doing with his spare time.

    • FacePalm


  • Tom

    Sweet merciful crap, I can hear the sound of that handwringing all the way through the internet.

  • PretzelThirsty

    I really wish I could post a gif of Helen Lovejoy saying “Oh won’t someone please think of the children.”


  • Anon. no. 5

    In order to make it truly the Soviet Safeway, only approve sales of vodka!

    • Elvis’s Mom


  • dcjpad

    Good luck sorting all *that* out, considering there’s a Dupont ANC commissioner who’s also an Alcoholic Beverage Control Board member.

  • Anonamom

    As a parent, I fully appreciate the need for alcohol sales in grocery stores. In fact, they should have that shit on tap in every grocery store in to-go cups. Have you ever shopped with a kid? How about three? Sometimes mama’s gotta drink.
    I genuinely suggest this person move to Maryland where most (non-grandfathered) grocery stores do not sell alcohol at all. He/she could even go to one of those counties that doesn’t sell alcohol on Sundays!

    • artemis

      +1000. I suppose I’m ruining my toddler by exposing him to the sizeable liquor collection on our sideboard at home.

    • Planner

      Once again, my (mostly unspoken) admiration for Anonamom is justified!

    • anon

      FWIW, the grandfathering is specific to Montgomery County. Other counties in Maryland have different policies (some allow beer, wine, and spirits at any number of grocery stores). Prince George’s County limits beer and wine only to grocery stores, and will issue one permit to each chain operating in the county at any given time, with new ones issued going forward as qualified.

    • annie

      This is too funny!

      Hell my kids make me want to drink. And going to that Safeway makes me want to drink more, especially cause I cannot put my kid in one of those shopping carts that most supermarkets have, why not? Because the people that run the Safeway are like most the people on this thread, they think that people in this area are either 20 or 60. And a kid sighting is a rare and unusual thing.

      So if they want to swap the vegies out for a merlot rendition of the pyramids then they should get some kid friendly hardware going on, cause my kid when on the loose will pull out the bottle at the bottom and it will be a big freaking mess!

  • Frustrated and Child Free

    The first two concerns are at least worthy of discussion. (I’m not really supportive of this kind of protectionism.)

    But the argument about kids just makes it so absurd I can’t take it seriously. Raise your kids in Dupont Circle and they are going to see drinking. There are still dry counties in Kentucky​ you can move to.

    The “think of the children” argument also smacks of giving in to the kind of parent that thinks their condo building should go pet free because their child is afraid of dogs. Never mind that the dogs lived there first.

    “Because children” should not be allowed to shut down discussion.

    • dcd

      Neither should “Because the Cairo!” or “Because I want large selection of organic kale chips, and if Safeway stocks Beer they won’t have room for more than 3 kinds!”

  • LC

    I would be more worried about the rats behind the Safeway than whether the kids are going to see Michelob Ultra on the shelves.

    • yeah, I guess I’m with you, but I’d still chug a rat carcass before I drank a Michelob Ultra.

  • TacoPants

    The kid excuse is ridiculous. I’d just hate to see Cairo Liquors or Prego Again put under pressure. They are neighborhood institutions with fair (for DC) prices and less buying power than a chain like Safeway. I think I’d rather just have Safeway stock a better range of food items. If their alcohol ordering is anything like their food ordering, it will be all light beer and Yellowtail. If they stock good beer and it sells out quickly, they’ll probably stop ordering it so their shelves don’t look as bare.

    • Anon

      You’d hate to see Cairo or Prego face price competition? If Safeway is able to get better prices, it will pass those savings on to consumers. If Safeway chooses to stock light beer and Yellowtail, it will be because that’s what people want to buy.

    • Planner

      Or, if Safeway only stocks light beer and Yellowtail, you can be sure I will be shopping at Cairo. Or Rosebud.

    • dcd

      “I think I’d rather just have Safeway stock a better range of food items.”
      If Safeway has an opening for store GM, you should apply. Absent that, respectfully make a request to the person that does get the GM job. Absent that, I can’t see why you should have a say in this. Same goes for the ANC.

  • Matt

    I honestly am only have my children so I can one day send them to get me booze at the store.

    • Elvis’s Mom


  • FacePalm

    Ignoring the insane plea that we all think of the non-existent children who may be so traumatized by the mere sight of packaged alcohol that they require decades of therapy for a second. There are three liquor stores within a block and a half. If they haven’t put each other out of business, it’s highly unlikely Safeway’s 80 square feet of Bud Light and Barefoot wine is going to do it. It’ll basically fill the bizarrely niche NW DC market of cheap and large quantities of mediocre alcohol for parties, tailgates, whatever. I find it highly unlikely that I’ll purchase a lot of alcohol from Safeway but I can’t say I’d be upset about being able to grab some wine to cook with in the same place I get groceries.

    • JoDa

      You don’t think people outside of NW DC buy large quantities of cheap, mediocre alcohol for social gatherings that often center around alcohol?

    • lizcolleena

      Yeah, this. Giant in CH sells a lot of beer and wine, but frankly I hardly ever shop there for that because I don’t want Bud or Barefoot. I usually go to D’Vines, occasionally Target, occasionally CC’s (if it’s even open), occasionally that little Park Market just up from Giant. There are a number of others within walking distance of my house, and they all seem to do ok business.

    • HaileUnlikely

      I don’t know about that. The Petworth and Brightwood Safeways both have a respectable selection of decent beers (Heavy Seas, Dogfish Head, etc). Not high-end stuff, but it ain’t all Bud/Coors/PBR. (I think the prohibition is absurd and do not support it, but I think your rationale that they wouldn’t be competitive is either exaggerated or misinformed)

  • Planner

    I live just a block from that Safeway and am in there several times a week. No car, so it’s my go-to. I also shop – less frequently – at Cairo and Rosebud. I’d be more than happy for Safeway to stock alcohol; they would probably become my oh-since-I’m-here-I’ll-grab-it supplier. Meanwhile, Cairo and Rosebud would remain my source of anything interesting or special. (Or liquor.)
    (I don’t use Prego, but for no particular reason.)

    So I guess I have to go to this meeting on Wednesday now….

  • 17thSter

    The Safeway needs a refresh badly. I don’t know where they found the space to sell alcohol. I would still go to Cairo.

  • jolian

    People (mostly former District residents who now live in Maryland) made the same argument when All Souls bar, across from Cleveland Elementary School, applied for its liquor license a few years ago. The concern was that the kids at Cleveland would be corrupted by seeing adults drinking alcohol. Utter nonsense, of course. That school has its fair share of problems, but drinking is not one of them. This kind of (fake) NIMBYism always strikes me as being a gross over reaction to fear of “The Plan”.

    • JoDa

      Menomale originally had a clause in their settlement agreement that they wouldn’t sell alcohol between 2 and 5 PM, because of Noyes elementary (which really isn’t all that close by). It was really annoying because while it was clearly worded to only apply to school days, it ended up applied during the summer and on Federal holidays when school wasn’t even in session, so a late lunch or early evening drink were out of the question (now there are other choices in the neighborhood, but it wasn’t that long ago that Menomale was a rare bird of a sit-down restaurant with a full bar in the area). It looks like no one protested their application to drop the agreement, since it was supposed to be on the docket this week if there was any activity. That’s good.
      These types of restrictions on businesses should be disallowed. Noise management, traffic management, trash management…fine, ask for details and hold the establishment to them. We already have laws that prohibit underage sale, and an establishment can already lose its license for violating them. Those laws are well-enforced. If you want to further restrict your child’s encounters with alcohol, to include avoiding seeing it sold or consumed, that’s on you.

      • lizcolleena

        We also already have laws that regulate when and where different types of alcohol can be sold. This just seems onerous.

  • No Chug Chug

    17th Street Safeway is a long-standing institution. Very small in comparison to other stores. It is the primary grocery store for the Dupont Circle area to the west. It has had a nickname of the Soviet Safeway for a long time because shelves were often empty because, again it was the only viable & convenient option in the area at the time for a large number of residents. That’s no longer the case.

    Liquor would take up a significant % of the shelf space, no doubt, because of the store’s compact size. There are so many other places to buy liquor up and down 17th Street that the convenience argument falls flat. I imagine Safeway may be comparing itself to the other newer stores within a few blocks — Trader Joes & Whole Foods & Harris Teeter — all of which sell alcohol. They are popular stores, but not necessarily because they sell alcohol — rather because of their locations, products, faster lines, parking, etc.

    So, competitively, there is not much reason to say alcohol in a grocery store is a major problem for the community’s morals. Drunks and vagrants are not known to plague the area because of the grocers. But the residents are free to state their wishes. That’s what hearings are for — to hear all sides. I would not favor alcohol in that little store, but I don’t go there much anymore unless I happen to be walking by. Prices are too expensive on produce.

  • Rich

    The store is being refreshed.—-I saw much needed new produce cases last night, so I’m sure they have a space in mind for the beer & wine. Most likely it is the liquor store competition that’s behind this. I’ve never seen kids in that store and given the helicopter style of parenting here that leads to child abuse charges for unattended kids walking home, I would be very surprised to see kids shopping for their parents in most of the DC area. OTOH, like playing in the street, it was something i did as a kid with no apparent scars or drinking problems.

  • annie

    The kid encountering alcohol on sale leading to negative effects is a puritanical concern for sure.

    But when I read this story I did not even think of that, I thought that it implied a mild safety issue – it is called Safeway after all, that parents would have less concern about sending kids to get stuff from the store if they are confident that the kid will not be encountering the local drunk at the check out…

    But is that an issue on 17th Street anyway? I see lots of kids, not so many drunks.

    More food please – in any case!

  • anon

    Many neighbors are against beer and wine at this store; want better groceries not liquor.

  • Pip

    Location near a school is a legitimate concern: DC CODE § 25-314.
    No license shall be issued for any establishment within 400 feet of a public, private, or parochial primary, elementary, or high school; college or university; or recreation area operated by the District of Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation, except as provided in paragraphs (2) through (5) of this subsection…

    • JoDa

      Nice job selectively quoting the code. Here are the exceptions (provided in paragraphs (2) through (5)!), which would allow both a grocery store and a restaurant:
      (2) The 400-foot restriction shall not apply to a restaurant, hotel, club, caterer’s, or temporary license.
      (3) The 400-foot restriction shall not apply if there exists within 400 feet a currently-functioning establishment holding a license of the same class at the time that the new application is submitted.
      (4) The 400-foot restriction shall not apply if:
      (A) The applicant applies for an off-premises retailer’s license, Class B;
      (B) The primary business and purpose of the establishment is the sale of a full range of fresh, canned, and frozen food items, and the sale of alcoholic beverages is incidental to the primary purpose;
      (C) The sale of alcoholic beverages constitutes no more than 15% of the total volume of gross receipts on an annual basis;
      (D) The establishment is located in a C-1, C-2, C-3, C-4, or C-5 zone or, if located within the Southeast Federal Center, in the SEFC/C-R zone;
      (E) The establishment is a full service grocery store which is newly constructed with a certificate of occupancy issued after January 1, 2000, or is an existing store which has undergone renovations in excess of $500,000 (i) after January 1, 2000 and prior to [March 8, 2006], or (ii) during the preceding 12 months in which an application is made;
      (F) The opinion of the ANC in which the establishment is located has been given great weight as specified in Chapter 4 [of this title]; and
      (G) The applicant does not hold a manufacturer’s or wholesaler’s license.
      (5) The 400-foot restriction shall not apply where the main entrance to the college, university, or recreation area, or the nearest property line of the school is actually on or occupies ground zoned commercial or industrial according to the official atlases of the Zoning Commission of the District of Columbia.

      • Anon

        Learn to read the law. A license for a grocery store (class B retail, off premises) can only be issued if 4(B)-(G) are met. That’s a whole lot of conditions which are put in place to limit the sale of liquor near schools etc.

  • Sick-of-those-people

    I bet these parents don´t let their kids to watch TV either? or go to the movies? or pass by restaurants – bars where people have happy hours? They shoukd consider movig to Lancaster PA

  • annie


    So the whole school thing has some legal grounds. But only some.

    Who has to prove there is an actual potential problem. Does the Safeway have to prove that there is no likely problem with them getting the license, or does an objecting party have to prove that there is a likely problem.

    I heard the ANC voted to protest the license anyway. Probably nothing to do with kids.


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