LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - It's been almost 2 months since Lubbock stores started selling alcohol, which was a major change that had many Lubbockites worried. It's now up to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to regulate all the new alcohol stores.
"We focus on public safety issues such as sales to minors, sales to intoxicated persons, sales during prohibited hours," said TABC Agent Anthony Bates.
NewsChannel 11 went with Bates on a few of his surprise inspections to see what they look for. "When we arrive at a location we check the vehicles, make sure there's no minors consuming or anybody consuming at all," said Bates as we started the first inspection.
They also check for other, less serious violations such as required posted signs. Once inside they make their presence known to the manager, and they have free reign over the store where they check permits, paperwork, and product.
"We'll look at just the general store. We'll look at their signs, their pricing, stuff like that," said Bates.
The TABC says they inspect each store at least once a year. Some store owners say the inspections are actually helpful and give them a chance to ask questions.
"The surprise inspections are not any real big deal unless you're trying to hide something. You know, if you're not that's just everyday part of business," said Rick's Place Owner, Rick Claybrook.
Bates says most violations they catch are minor. For example, the Food Mart at 66th and Slide did not have their complaint phone number sign in plain view of the customer "It's not a major violation, obviously it's just a sign, but it is something that we regulate," said Bates.
The TABC aims for voluntary compliance, so the first step is to simply point out the error. "In a couple of weeks, I'll just come back by and make sure that they have moved it. If they haven't moved it, then we go up to an actual written warning," said Bates.
The TABC has found some major violations, too. They caught 2 stores selling to minors since September. One of those stores is the Fast Stop 4602 N. Frankford. Because it was the store's first violation and Fast Stop had all of their employees receive Seller/Server Training, the store did not have any suspensions or fines. However, the employee who made the sale did.
"They were informed that it had been a sting, and that they had been caught on it. The employee was fined. We were informed and terminated the employee," said Fast Stop Human Resources Director, Chris Gscheidle.
The TABC says if they catch a store selling to minors 3 or more times in a year, they will face repercussions ranging from a fine to losing their alcohol sale permit.
"We understand that people make mistakes, but if it's getting to the second, third time then it's obviously not a mistake, it's a problem," said Bates.
The TABC has not yet released the name of the second store that they caught selling to a minor.
If you want to report a store you think is selling illegally you can call their hotline at 1-888-THE-TABC. They will then follow up with an investigation.
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