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News & Press: Industry News

Vilification of Liquor Stores

Wednesday, September 30, 2015  
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Steve Kohrman-Chairman, Indiana Association of Beverage RetailersMessage from IABR Chairman Steve Kohrman Liquor store owners are survivors. They’re born and bred of family-operated companies that go back decades – some starting at a time with little oversight or intrusion. Fiercely independent, proud of their roots, and dependent on the rules handed to them, they generally know what’s expected of them – and operate under those expectations.


So we’re not surprised when liquor stores are crucified by competitors and see it reflected in media headlines in fleeting TV sound bites and goofy radio parodies. Still, it’s a bitter pill to swallow and hard on our families and our friends.


No one wants to explain a nasty tweet to their 12-year-old son.

No one wants to be called names they wouldn’t use in polite society.

And no one wishes the same treatment on a fellow neighbor, friend or customer.

But here we are – at the crossroads of Sunday sales. Again.

When Gov. Frank O’Bannon was in the Statehouse, even he recognized the potential for harm with the expansion of sales in more and more retail outlets. Unfettered. Unrestricted. Unacknowledged. We know because we often quoted Gov. O’Bannon back to you – our members – when he told media that alcohol should not be as accessible as milk.


We miss the common sense of people like Gov. O’Bannon, but we see glimmers of it in today’s Hoosier lawmakers who understand that alcohol is not a commodity like milk – and should never be treated the same. Alcohol is a powerful and addictive substance that all of us should especially be wary of as it’s put out into messaging, branding and marketing aimed at our children.


Don’t call us hypocrites for saying so because all the research shows the powerful impact of alcohol messaging on children – including from the recent Super Bowl. According to a recent Healthline report: “Tammy Strickling, director of Suncoast Rehabilitation Center in Florida, said ads make it look like alcohol allows people to fit in more easily. Fitting in is a huge concern for all school-aged children. ‘Much of the advertising depicts alcohol being consumed in social settings with sun and water, sports, and interaction with the opposite sex,’ she said. ‘These situations are ones that teens and young adults are potentially struggling with in terms of their own ability and confidence to be in and handle such situations and interactions.’ Raskin said that when a commercial of a rousing college frat party appears, explain to your child how alcohol hinders brain function and development. Not exactly a ticket to summa cum laude.” And in a recent JAMA Pediatrics study, the authors concluded that the system of self-regulation in alcohol advertising is seriously not working.


We raise all of this because minors aren’t allowed in liquor stores – period. But they are allowed in grocery stores, convenience stores, drug stores and gas stations. Most sell alcohol in Indiana – some even chilling alcohol-content hard cider on fresh ice early Sunday mornings in Indy. Part of the Sunday sales restrictions now in play may change all that – and we hope it does.

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