A casual trip to the neighborhood Walgreens usually consists of picking up a prescription, candy and the occasional hygiene product. Now customers can add beer and wine to their shopping list.
Two of three Walgreens locations in Washington, D.C., have Retailers’ Class B licensing that allows them to sell alcoholic beverages. The newest location in Ward 3 has applied for a Class B license and is awaiting approval, but residents and nearby store owners don’t approve.
The Walgreens Class “B” license was first taken under consideration at an Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting in February when residents, store employees and majority of commissioners disapproved of the store obtaining the license and explained their various reasons to store community manager Jin Kim.
“Walgreens has been a bad neighbor!” exclaimed Karen L. Perry, Vice Chair of ANC 3F. “Your delivery trucks take up parking, not to mention you leave the dumpsters looking a mess in the back!”
Perry then asked Kim, “Why should we vote for you to get a Class “B” license when you can’t even handle the store as is?”
Perry isn’t the only one who doesn’t want the location at 4225 Connecticut Ave. NW to get the license. Giant Store Assistant Manager Calvin Parker opposes the license, because he thinks liquor sales will bring more crime to the area.
“My store has lost up to $100,000 in theft last year,” Parker says. “Having another store with a liquor license will bring more of that activity to this neighborhood.”
Parker later adds that it is a competition issue as well, but claims that isn’t his primary concern.
Despite the community backlash, Kim isn’t concerned about obtaining the Class “B” license for his store as he still awaits approval.
“We aren’t having trouble getting the license,” Kim says. “Although residents are against it, that isn’t what it is holding us back from getting it. The process takes about six months. I suspect that we will be successful and getting the license; it is just a matter of waiting.”
It may seem odd for a pharmacy to sell alcoholic beverages, but it isn’t uncommon.
According to the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, which approves licenses, Walgreens holds an interest in thousands of liquor licenses in various jurisdictions and has held liquor licenses nationwide for more than 30 years.
A sales clerk at the Walgreens on 3524 Connecticut Ave. finds alcohol sold at that location is very popular, but Kim isn’t seeking the license because of difference in revenue.
“It’s more of a convenience factor in getting the license,” Kim says. “If all the other Walgreens in the area are selling it and we are not, it becomes an inconvenience for both our customers and the store.”
Surrounding locations sell liquor, including the Giant supermarket, Van Ness Wines and Liquors and the other nearby Walgreens. Convenience shouldn’t be an issue for customers as Walgreens continues with hearings in hopes of getting its license in the next couple months.