Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Rite-Aid Nazi: No Beer For You!

I recently spent a lovely weekend in Portland, Maine, a really cool city in New England. I've got tons of urban-planning-related issues to write about, but I'd like to start first with a point of contention.

I was shopping in a Portland Rite-Aid for various sundries, and noticed that Rite-Aid (at least in Maine) sells liquor. Mostly beer and wine, anyway. Directly in front of the liquor case was a sign (pictured above) that indicated in no uncertain terms that out-of-state drivers licenses were not acceptable identification for purchasing alcohol.

This strikes me as pretty bizarre. The last time I checked, the Full Faith and Credit clause of the US Constitution requires any individual state to recognize the validity of documents issued by other states. This is why, for instance, you can drive your car (with your Minnesota drivers license) across the border to Iowa. Incidentally, this is always why one state's legalization of gay marriage is problematic for other states that seek to ban it: the Constitution requires them to recognize the validity of the out-of-state gay marriage license.

But apparently not in Maine! In Maine, Rite-Aid is pleased to deny you your rights as a US citizen. I'll be following up with Rite-Aid on this note--surely I'm not the only one who has noticed this illegality.

The thing that's particularly bizarre about Rite-Aid's practice is this: Portland is a tourist town. A huge amount of Portland's revenue comes from seasonal tourists who flock to the area for its great shopping, excellent seafood, harbor cruises, hiking, skiing, and so on. These tourists come from (gasp!) places other than Maine! They come from Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and often Canada! What if they want to buy a bottle of wine while visiting Portland? Apparently, the city of Portland (or at least Rite-Aid) is not interested in making any money off of them.

When traveling to new cities, you have to take local customs into account. You can't just assume that you'll be able to do whatever you want in this or that new city, just because it was available to you in your hometown. I lived in France for a few months, and despite the presence of several million people in that metropolis I still couldn't get a decent pizza after 11pm. When in Rome, I guess...


Blogger lookout said...

I would raise the question of whether any retailer has the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason. Bars, for example, can refuse to sell you alcohol if they think you're too drunk. Whereas your Minnesota driver's license is recognized as a right to drive in Maine, it may not mean that stores in Maine have to sell you alcohol. They're a private business. Couldn't they refuse to sell out of towners Doritos if they so choose?

12:10 AM  
Blogger Silus Grok said...

Shame you didn't have the bandwidth/personal fortune to pull a Larry Lessig, attempt to buy the beer... get denied... sue them all back to the stone age.


9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was a kid I always thought it was such an awesome novelty that you can buy forties at Rite-Aid in Maine.

11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last I checked, Rite-Aid was not an organ of the state... Or is it?!?

6:44 PM  
Blogger Patrick Ian Banks said...

I have a hunch that sign has a lot to do with a recent liquor sting Portland cops sprung on our various liquor providers in our fair city. Some might even say Portland's "finest" were a tad bit overzealous. (See: http://www.thebollard.com/story_news/sting_stung_6.5.07.html ) In any case, purveyors of various booze in Portland have been a tad bit paranoid about losing their liquor licence. Hence, probably, that stupid sign. Man, I'm glad I'm a local.

7:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well first of all any store (at least in maine) can denie the sale of alcohol to anyone anytime for any reason, no matter how foolish it sounds. But, yeah, they are freaking beer nazis at rite-aid, you could have gone to a supermarket and used a out of state ID, and they will take it, the whole state isent crazy like them.

10:59 AM  

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