B&M Foodmart (215 New York Ave NW) has begun the process to seek an exemption to the Single Serve Moratorium. The Class B licensed establishment is slated to go before both the ANC6C ABL committee and full commission in April. Last night owner Brenda Keys spoke before the MVSNA to seek a community endorsement of her exemption request.
My recap of the MVSNA discussion is below using both my notes and Jeff Parke’s meeting minutes as source material.
Given the floor to state her case Brenda offered the following:
- Owned the store for 30 years
- Never had a complaint from the police department or 911 Call
- Referred to self as the mother, social worker, minister of the neighborhood
- Claimed that customers don’t loiter in front of the store.
- Stated that she has sold singles since originally opening and there has never been a problem.
- Claimed that single sales are critical to her stores survival
The community pressed for more specifics and learned the following:
B&M Foodstore relies on alcohol sales for 40% of their revenue with nearly all of that (35%) business coming from single sales. Brands sold include both midscale beers and low end malt liquors (Owner cited Heineken, Corona, Budweiser, Olde English, Steel Reserve, Milwaukee’s Best, etc..). B&M’s lowest price point for single sales is $1.65.
I also brought up the point that B&M Food Store has an unconventional setup. The entirety of the store is behind a security partition except a small foyer. Customers are not buzzed into the store. Rather the customer must tell the cashier what they would like to buy so that it may be retrieved for them. Keys explained that the store has this setup because she was robbed at gunpoint 10 years ago. While I absolutely concede that personal safety is paramount, I believe the store’s layout may be limiting its viability every bit as much as competition from Safeway or the single sales ban. Shoppers prefer an experience that empowers them to browse the inventory of products and prices unencumbered to make their selection. B&M should consider reorganizing its layout so that only the cashier’s counter is behind a security partition. A lesson from the ongoing eight year singles moratorium in Mt Pleasant is that the ban will force businesses to adapt product inventory and their customer experience rather than cling to the inertia of old business models.
After the questions for Brenda the MVSNA membership delved more into their thoughts on the ban as a whole. Some back and forth on whether the ban is “fair” to small businesses transpired. One board member suggested that the effectiveness of the ban would be undermined if exemptions were extended to the majority of liquor and convenience stores.
The Membership voted to oppose endorsement of the exemption for B&M Food Market. The voting on the resolution to NOT support exemption yielded 8 in favor, 3 in opposition and 4 abstentions. Ultimately ANC 6C will make the one endorsement that carries great weight and B&M will have an opportunity to state their case at their ABRA hearing in April.