Some liquor stores shun vertical IDs

Margot Greer, senior in LAS, walked into a Colonial Pantry on campus last December after work to buy alcohol. She had turned 21 two months earlier, but when she handed the store clerk her driver’s license, she said she was turned away.

“They didn’t accept my ID because it wasn’t facing the right way,” Greer said.

Greer came across a policy that many new 21-year-olds are experiencing around campus. Those who have vertical driver’s licenses cannot purchase alcohol even if they are 21 years of age.

But it depends on where they are trying to buy.

Both Colonial Pantry and Super Pantry, which each have multiple locations on or around campus, are the only alcohol vendors with such a policy. Greer said when she asked why Colonial Pantry would not accept her ID, the clerk answered, “We just don’t.”

“It was silly,” Greer said, “How am I 21 and I can’t buy alcohol?”

The employees at Colonial Pantry, who adopted the policy last year, said they have their reasons. Charlie Brown, supervisor of operations for Colonial Pantry, said before this standard was set, the chain had been receiving tickets from local and state authorities for selling alcohol to minors.

Brown said that by not accepting vertical IDs, Colonial Pantry takes an extra step to ensure that it only sells alcohol to people who are of age, and he added it’s working.

“Since we implemented the policy, we haven’t had any (tickets),” Brown said. “Knock on wood.”

Super Pantry, which has 43 locations that sell alcohol throughout Illinois and Indiana, has similar reasons for its policy. In recent years, state officials have cracked down on establishments that sell alcohol to minors, so for the two campus stores, the conventional methods of checking IDs were not enough anymore. For both Colonial Pantry and Super Pantry, even scanning driver’s licenses does not cut it.

Selling to minors is costly to businesses. According to the Illinois Liquor Control Commission’s Web site, a first-time offense typically receives a $500 fine. If the same establishment is cited again within the next five years, the fines can reach a maximum of $2,500, and the liquor license can be suspended or revoked.

Champaign and Urbana ordinances about liquor differ slightly. Champaign’s penalties increase if multiple offenses occur in the same fiscal year, according to the Champaign mayor’s office; the Urbana legal division stated that a first-time offense receives a $300 ticket in Urbana. After the first offense, it is up to the Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing whether to impose larger fines or suspend/revoke the liquor license.

In spite of the potential fines, other campus vendors are willing to take their chances. Hometown Pantry, 601 E. Green St., Discount Liquors, 608 S. Sixth St., and Piccadilly, which has six locations throughout C-U, all accept vertical IDs.

Dave Kempe, who works at the Piccadilly at 601 S. First St., said if it is a valid ID, the store will accept it.

“We look at it, determine if it’s valid, and if it is, we take it,” Kempe said. “We tend to hire smart people.”

The C-U bars share Piccadilly’s policy. From the Green Street Cafe, 35 E. Green St., to Kam’S, 618 E. Daniel St., every bar on campus will serve to a patron who is over 21 regardless of whether the ID is vertical or horizontal.

Derrick Lloyd, senior in LAS, works as a barback and bartender at It’s Brother’s Bar & Grill.

“As long as it’s a valid form of ID, we accept it,” Lloyd said.

While Colonial Pantry and Super Pantry stand out as the sole places on campus that do not accept vertical IDs, they said they will take the small loss of business if it means avoiding tickets.