CARBONDALE — Customers can now order alcohol from Walmart through its online ordering feature.
Although the measure was approved 6-1, councilman Tom Grant was concerned at first about how easy it would be for an underage person to get their hands on an alcoholic beverage. He said it seemed to him that it would be easy for a person to direct an Uber driver to pick up the alcohol and deliver it their house.
“I just see this as a big loophole,” he said.
Carbondale city attorney Jamie Snyder it was his understanding that the person who places the order online has to be the same person who picks it up.
Gary Kramie, Walmart store manager, explained the process to the council. He said when a person places an order online and he or she selects an alcoholic beverage, there are warning signs telling the customer he or she must bring the proper identification to the store to obtain his or her items. The employee selecting the alcoholic beverage at the store places the alcohol in a separate bag with a sticker labeling it as alcohol.
When the customer picks up the items, the employee will be prompted on a handheld electronic device to ask for identification. Additionally, the employee must type the customer’s birth date into the device before allowing him or her to pay for and take possession of the alcohol.
Councilman Jeff Doherty asked if the store could deliver alcohol. Some grocery stores, including Schnucks in Carbondale, have started the process of delivering groceries. Alcohol is not a feature that can be delivered from Schnucks. Snyder said he believes the establishment would act outside its license if it were to occur.
Overall, Kramie said online ordering is a procedure happening in more than 700 Walmart stores across the country and will be implemented in as many as 1,400 by the end of 2018.
“Kroger has been doing this for nine months to a year and nobody has brought it into question,” Snyder said. “I don’t think it would be any different from handing beer out of a drive-up.”
Former Carbondale mayor and city councilman Don Monty said this procedure change could open up larger questions about what delivery mechanisms could be considered for grocery stores.
“For example, can a grocery store come here (to City Council) with a change of operation request to include a drive-up window for alcohol?” Monty asked. “This kind of opens up a bigger picture.”