Where’s The Liquor Department?

Shortly before I left work this evening, Phillip sent me a text message, asking me to buy some tequila on my way home.

Ever since Washington voted to privatize our liquor sales (an idea I voted against, by the way), the only place to buy alcohol in our neighborhood is QFC. I’ve written before about how much I dislike shopping at our QFC. Well, I dislike buying liquor at QFC even more.

The liquor department at our QFC is closed off from the rest of the store, and the liquor in the back is locked in cabinets. (They’ve had a problem with shoplifters, apparently.) Tequila is in the back.

So, in order to buy liquor there, you walk in, look through the cabinet doors, decide what you want, then walk back up to the cashier. If it’s busy, like on a Friday evening, you have to wait in a long line, because there’s, at the most, two cashiers – but usually just the one. Then, when you reach the front of the line, you tell the cashier that you want something from the cabinets. The cashier closes up their cash register, grabs the cabinet key, and walks back with you. They’re usually impatient with you, because they’ve left a long line of people waiting at the register. I find it an unpleasant experience.

I miss the State Liquor Store, the one that used to be on Broadway. It had its bottles all along the walls, in open shelves, with the cashiers in the center of the room. You could take your time, look at the bottles, read the labels, and ask the cashiers any questions you might have.

So, I got Phillip’s message this evening, and I decided not to stop into QFC to buy tequila.

I walked into the Bartell Drugs on Third Avenue, across the street from the bus stop. An employee was opening a box at the front of the store. I asked her if they had a liquor department.

(Correction: It was a Rite Aid.)

“Oh, thank Jesus, no,” she replied, “The one up the hill does, the one, um…”

“Oh yes, the one on Fourth, next to the library?” I asked. She said that was the one.

I thanked her and walked up to the Bartell Drug on Fourth Avenue. I looked around, until I found an employee opening a box in the aisle. I asked him if they had a liquor department.

“We do,” he replied, “We keep it locked up behind the cash registers.” He pointed toward the front of the store.

When I thanked him, he added, “We keep it locked up because if we didn’t…”

“You’d have no liquor department?” I suggested.

“Exactly right,” said the Bartell employee.

I bought a bottle of tequila and a bottle of rum from the friendly cashier. (Bartell Drug employees are always extra friendly.) Then I caught a bus home.

I got the impression that, in general, neither QFC nor Bartell employees are happy about liquor sales.

(Edit: And Rite Aid employees don’t seem too happy, either.)


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