Liquor stores agree to stop selling ‘cheap’ booze

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Nine South Side liquor stores have tentatively agreed to stop selling certain, inexpensive alcoholic drinks within the next 60 days in an effort to help improve the community.

@font-face { font-family: “Times New Roman”; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: “Times New Roman”; }table.MsoNormalTable { font-size: 10pt; font-family: Courier; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }Nine South Side liquor stores have tentatively agreed to stop selling certain, inexpensive alcoholic drinks within the next 60 days in an effort to help improve the community.

Alderman Pat Dowell, whose 3rd Ward includes portions of Bronzeville and where the liquor stores are located, brokered the agreement.

Dowell explained that the agreement calls for the liquor stores to stop selling such alcoholic drinks as Wild Irish Rose wine and Colt 45 malt liquor beer.

“These alcoholic drinks are relatively cheap and easy to buy from simply begging on the street for change,” Dowell said. “Patrons will purchase these drinks and when they are done they would throw their bottles and cans on the ground littering up the community.”

At Defender press time, a complete list of alcoholic drinks that soon would no longer be sold was unavailable.

“I presented this voluntary agreement to 12 3rd Ward retailers that sell alcohol and nine agreed to the terms,” Dowell told the Defender. “My purpose for drafting this agreement is not to rid the 3rd Ward of liquor stores but to make liquor stores more responsive to the needs of the community.”

The nine stores are Hyde Park Food & Liquor, 126 E. 51st St., Vegas Food & Liquor, 330 E. Pershing Road, 200 Liquors, 204 E. 47th St., Zaid Certified Foods, 513 E. 47th St., Sunrise Supermarket, 549 E. Pershing Road, Jardan Food & Liquor, 317 E. Garfield Blvd., Red Apple Food & Liquor, 317 E. 51st St., Aristo Food & Liquor, 307 E. 47th St., and Woods Foods & Liquor, 300 E. 35th St., which is Black-owned.

While a potential loss of revenue was an initial concern of the nine liquor merchants, in the end “they wanted to do what was best for the community and for that I commend them,” the alderman said.

Additionally, the stores have also agreed to stop selling loose cigarettes, tobacco-wrapping paper and attend a minimum of four Chicago Alternative Community Strategy meetings a year. Further, all employees must pass an alcohol training class, the stores will install outdoor cameras and more outdoor lighting, cease using inappropriate outside advertisements –including ones that include scantily-dressed women, and enroll in a better garbage disposal program.

Midway Food & Liquor, 5500 S. State St., Calumet Food & Liquors, 315 E. 43rd St. and Rothschild Liquor Mart, 124 E. Pershing Road, declined to participate in the agreement.

“They have been unwilling to work with the community,” Dowell said.

A referendum will appear on the Feb. 22 ballot in the 11th and 33rd precints of the ward asking if voters there want to ban liquor sales at Calumet Food & Liquors (11th precinct) and Rothschild (33rd precinct). Dowell said while she supports the referendum to close these two liquor stores she is concerned about a vote dry movement.

“I am not against liquor being sold in the 3rd Ward,” she said.

Calumet Food & Liquors manager, Kamel Fakhouri, said he would stop selling inexpensive beer and wine if every other liquor store in Bronzeville did the same.

“Otherwise if I stop and other stores continue to sell it my customers would go to them instead and I would lose business,” said Fakhouri.

Joann Leatherwood owns Woods Food & Liquor, and said liquor stores are being blamed for community problems it did not create. Her store is one going along with Dowell’s agreement, though she questions it.

“Why is it all right for grocery stores like Dominick’s and Jewel to sell liquor but not stand alone liquor stores?” she asked. “Customers hang out in their parking lots but I don’t see anyone trying to close them down. The rules seem to be different for liquor stores.”

According to Leatherwood, liquor stores generate income for the community and city.

“I paid the city $16,000 in sales tax. My business compliments other nearby businesses so they’re making money off my traffic flow,” she said.

But Bronzeville community activist Mell Monroe disagrees.

Monroe, an entrepreneur and president of the Bronzeville Area Residents’ & Commerce Council, a non-profit organization that serves condominium owners, renters, homeowners and commerce enterprises, spearheaded the petition drive for the 11th precinct referendum.

Copyright 2010 Chicago Defender

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