My tour of Mt Pleasant liquor and convenience stores

This past Saturday I toured the Class A & B ABC licensed establishments in the Mount Pleasant commercial corridor. As I outlayed in my previous posting on Mount Pleasant, the neighborhood has had a single sales ban which both the community and ABC businesses have overwhelmingly supported the continuance of.

The commercial district spans roughly 3/10 of a mile along Mount Pleasant Street NW between Irving St NW and Park Rd NW. While the corridor was bustling the mix of businesses suggested the area was certainly not too affluent to be comparable to areas around the Triangle. In addition to the popular Heller’s Bakery, Radius Pizza and Dos Gringos Cafe you’ll find a dollar store, check cashing store, thift shop and multiple laundromats.

On the map above I’ve highlighted the two Class A in red and five B ABC licensed establishments in blue.

Do any businesses sell singles?
None of the liquor or convenience stores sold singles of beer or malt liquor. There are no exceptions negotiated via voluntary agreements. 7-11 has a convenience store on this street but it does not sell any alcohol. I briefly entered into a few of the carryout places like El Pollo Sabroso and did not see single beers for sale in those establishments. Mt Pleasant has clearly stuck to the intent of the law.

What do they sell?
Among the seven convenience and liquor stores I visited the was not much universal overlap in brands being sold. Some, like the Bestway Supermarket, stuck mainly to 6-packs of the staples like Budweiser and Corona. A few of the other stores sold more variety including Magic Hat, Allagash, Abita, Dogfish Head, Hoegarden, Boddington, Brooklyn Pilsner, Shiner Bock, and Kirin Ichiban. For stores that carried Heineken and Guinness the smallest packaging was 4 packs of 14.9 ounce cans priced roughly at $7.99. Only one store carried Steel Reserve (Mt Pleasant Deli) but did so in 6-packs of 12oz cans. I did not see any Sapporo or Chimay for sale. I’m not clear why there was no Sapporo for sale as it is available from distributors in 6-packs.

How did the businesses adapt?
I was fortunate enough to carry on a conversation with one of the store owners. I will leave the name of his business out of the blog posting as I didn’t explain to him I was asking questions to publish anything. But I will share this information with any MVSNA BoD or ANC member who would like to talk to him first hand.

I approached the store owner and shared with him that my Ward had recently passed a Single Sale Moratorium and that ABC licensees around my neighborhood were applying for exemptions. I explained that I was touring Mt Pleasant to learn how the stores adapted and what product mixes they presently carried. I also commented on how I was pleasantly surprised to see that only one store I entered had a security partition. I asked him if he could share some thoughts on how the prohibition on single sales worked for the commercial corridor and his store.

Summarizing his comments: He was afraid to change back in 2000 and initially opposed the idea. He acknowledged that before the ban many of the litter, public drunkenness, public urination and safety issues the proponents of the ban pointed to did plague the neighborhood. He suggested that many of the stores had security partitions back in 2000. He noticed improvements in the neighborhood within the first year. By 2003 he had removed his security partition and in 2005 he completed a remodel. He thinks the ban was instrumental to a revitalization of the corridor but can relate to how change can be scary.

This tour did increase my resolve that the wide and strong Single Sale Moratorium is worth fighting for. The Mt Pleasant success story is very compelling to me. Not only did the Class A & Class B ABC licensed businesses survive without selling singles, they became better stores.

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  1. 3

    fourthandeye says

    Today I’ve been reading an old message board thread of about 10-15 Mt Pleasant residents bickering over repealing the single sales ban. Some are passionately against a ban.

    In interest of full disclosure I will share that MtP ANC Jack McKay does not believe in the ban and wanted it lifted this year. Although the only argument he repeatedly made was that he believes it pushes the problem to other neighborhoods. He offered no evidence just that it is impossible that such a law actually reformed problem drinkers so they MUST have went somewhere and he is against any remedies that shift problems around. He was willing to ignore the mandate from residents over this perceived ethical dilemma.

    Several readers pointed some fallacy in this line of thinking. Orange hat patrols and increased MPD foot patrols push crime out of the neighborhood rather than eliminate criminals. No one argues these are bad reforms that shouldn’t be done. Despite posting over 30 times in the thread I did not seem him indulge this question.

    To me the shifting of problems argument is weak. We’re obviously moving in the direction of a wide ban rather than a neighborhood by neighborhood approach. It started with Mt Pleasant, Fenty introduced a ban in Ward 4 when he was their CM, and now Wards 2 and 6 are joining the fold. This suggests other Wards will be able to join over time if they desire.

  2. 4

    Anonymous says

    Please inform your readers that YOU voted to give an exemption to a liquor store last month. What made you chnaged you mind?

  3. 5

    fourthandeye says

    False, I did not vote any such way. I attended that meeting but did not vote.

    I only learned that the Modern exemption would be on the discussion two days before the meeting. I give a lot of contemplation to these issues, but two days notice to discuss a business outside of both the Triangle and the MVSNA boundaries that I had never been to is not enough notice. I will recap the Modern discussion in a separate blog post. Probably about 5-6 days from now.

  4. 6

    Anonymous says

    Why didn’t you vote “NO”?

    “but two days notice to discuss a business outside of both the Triangle and the MVSNA boundaries that I had never been to is not enough notice.”

    Two days is enough time, ten min. is enough time if you are truley not for any type of exemption.

    What is there to discuss? If you are for the ban there is no need for dicussions. It smells hypocritical and NIMBY

  5. 7

    Anonymous says

    Thank you for making your investigation and doing your research. As I have posted previously, I came to the same conclusion years ago when I lived near H Street, NE. There is NO benefit to a neighborhood by single-sales that can overcome the proven detriment.

  6. 8

    fourthandeye says

    @Anon 17:10 – you and I have different philosophies I suppose. I don’t freely cast precedent setting votes on quality of life issues based on 5-10 minutes of anecdotes. I research and refine my thoughts and work towards a conclusion I can defend with supporting facts.

  7. 9

    fourthandeye says

    I will add that during the Modern exemption discussion at the MVSNA Nov meeting I heard no mention of ABRA forbidding the use of criteria surrounding brands of beer. The membership was told “this store sells only craft Belgian singles” but was not told brands cannot be enforced. This was later shared with the community on the Lifein Blog that RobA didn’t get the latest ABRA rules that prohibited basing decisions on brands until 11/24 (read the comments). So the decision was express trained before we even knew the rules of the game. And you wonder why I felt it prudent to delay my vote?

    I have a problem making precedent setting endorsements that hinge on information not allowed to be in the agreement.

  8. 10

    Anonymous says

    @fourthandeye you and I don’t have different philosophies just different convictions to the principles I suppose.

    “The membership was told “this store sells only craft Belgian singles” but was not told brands cannot be enforced.”

    Why did you care what type of singles Modern sold? No single is no single. Have you not written that no one should get an exemption?

    So Yeah I still wonder why you didn’t vote NO.