Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Fizz by the Food Court


They came before the Liquor Board in March. They were approved for their license in May. A press release went up in August. But I really hadn’t heard anything until last week, and I am confused.

I’m talking about a business called Tapville Social, which looks like it will be opening in the Mall in November or December. 

The anticipation is building as we proudly announce the upcoming arrival of a Tapville kiosk at The Mall In Columbia. This groundbreaking addition marks a significant milestone as Tapville becomes the first establishment within the mall to introduce the novel experience of self-pouring beer, wine, and cider.  (Press Release, Tapville Social)

My gut reaction went something like this:

Columbia Mall: We must put security at our doors to screen out awful teenagers. Also Columbia Mall: Let’s put a self-serve alcohol dispenser in the center of the place!

In February local news and social media were abuzz with stories of uncontrollable teens at the Mall. (“The Mall Problem”, February 2023) Police increased security patrols. A new system of screening teens at the door during certain hours and requiring adult chaperones was put in place. 

It looks as though during this same time period plans were underway to open a self-serve alcohol kiosk near the Food Court. I don’t mean to suggest that there’s any connection. I’m simply saying that there’s something about it that blows my mind. Here we’re saying that Mall merchants and patrons have been subjected to repeated incidents of lawlessness and what has been described as roaming, violent gangs and someone thought it would be a good idea to add alcohol to the mix.

What could possibly go wrong?

All thoughts of teenagers aside,  I’m thinking about the Columbia Mall parking lot during the holidays with a bunch of well-lubricated drivers. Alcohol doesn’t make everybody cheery, you know. Holiday shopping at the Mall doesn’t, either. 

Personally, I’m not that jazzed up about Tapville Social. There are plenty of folks in our community who are trying to stay sober every day. Do we have to make the Mall a less safe place for them? Adding alcohol to a space that has traditionally been alcohol-free turns ordinary retail shopping into an activity where one must now take on constant vigilance and stress. This isn’t true for everyone who is living sober, but, some will just stop shopping at the Mall. 

One in eight adults in the United States suffers from Alcohol Use Disorder. When we say it’s simply a business decision to use alcohol to lure shoppers with a novel experience, we need to understand that it’s also a business decision to be willing to sacrifice the one in eight customers for whom this will be a deal-breaker, one way or another.

Here are two of the articles I read while researching this piece:

Tysons Corner Center shoppers allowed to drink alcoholic drinks while strolling through the mall, Sylvia Mphofe, November 2023, Fox 5 DC

Shopping Under the Influence, Abha Batterai, February 2020, Washington Post

From the Washington Post article:

I suppose I am taking a rather jaded view that it was terribly necessary to clean up the unruly teenager situation so that the self-serve alcohol kiosk could open up and attract the “right” kind of customers. I’m aware that not everyone will view it this way. The general response I’ve seen on social media has been “Gee, that sounds like fun” and “It’s not my responsibility to worry about other people’s problems.”

What’s your response?

Village Green/Town² Comments

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.