Brad Case, his mother Lynn Hight and stepfather Steve Hight have recently purchased the old Pet Palace building at 1391 N. Main St. and plan to transform it into a package store. To make the store more appealing and convenient to customers, Case asked LaFayette city council members on Monday, Aug. 13, if they would consider changing a local ordinance which prohibits the sale of alcohol at a package store through a drive-through window.
“Many of our surrounding cities already provide this convenient service in their business,” said Case. “A drive-through window can enhance business and revenue with a quick and easy exit and entrance. It can also be a helpful resource for people with handicaps or disabilities which would limit them from exiting their vehicles and some getting back in.”
“We know some people who go all the way to the Rossville one because it has a drive-through and because they’re in wheelchairs,” said Lynn Hight. “They’re all around us, so why should our residents go 30 minutes out of the way and give their money to someone else when they could stay right here, because they’re going to do it regardless.”
“It is also a great feature during bad weather,” said Case. “A user-friendly window would have repeat customers and would cut down on shoplifting.”
The council, however, isn’t yet sure what to think of the request, and hope to do more research in the time before the next meeting to determine if there is any documented risk to having a drive-through package store.
“My gut feeling on this is I would like to see people get out of their car and go purchase,” said councilman Andy Arnold. “And my reasoning for this is you can kind of tell whether they’ve had too much or not before you sell them alcohol.
“When you’re pulling up to the window, I know we ID, I know you’re supposed to ID, but in my experience, it’s much easier to pull up to the drive-through and purchase stuff when you’re underage,” Arnold explained. “I would really rather us have people walk in to purchase the alcohol to make sure we’re not endangering someone on the street because we’re selling it so somebody who’s already too intoxicated and you can’t tell that when you’re sitting in the car.”
“We are aware of the rules and laws pertaining to the sale of any kind of alcoholic beverage, and they will be enforced in the highest regard, whether the customers choose to walk in the store or drive up to the window,” Case assured the council.
“I think if the business owners do what they’re supposed to do, put in a good camera system, things like that, make it safe, well-lit, I think it would help the store owners as far as trying to identify whether a person’s had too much to drink or not,” said LaFayette police chief Bengie Clift.
Nonetheless, Clift, like the council, wants more details. “I would like to see more data on it before I’d say whether I was for or against it,” he said.
Case has already turned in plans to the city outlining how the drive-through, which would enter by West Morgan Street and exit onto North Main Street, would be constructed, including a bevy of security lights and cameras.
The store will also be open to customers who wish to park and walk in to purchase their alcohol of choice. As Case and the Hights already has the licenses necessary, the store will be moving forward, whether the city decides to change the ordinance or not.
As it stands now, the council has decided to table the decision until they have more time to look at the store’s plans in detail and see if any data on the potential dangers of drive-through package sales – DUI, underage sales – may exist, though the council is dubious that any studies could be considered conclusive.
“Is it really a safety risk or is it just a really conservative town wanting to be kind of weird, like well, we’re going to sell beer, but not from a car, because that seems a little too liberal,” said councilman Ben Bradford. “That to me doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to make a decision. If it’s a legitimate issue, then that is a good enough reason to weigh in.”