Mount Pleasant Trader Joe’s beer and wine permit suspended after third underage violation

Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 8:01 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Loyal Trader Joe’s customers will soon be able to buy their “two-buck chuck” again after the Mount Pleasant store had its beer and wine permit suspended.

Sales were “off the table” for the last ten days following a ruling from a South Carolina administrative court.

The suspension began on January 2 stemming from an undercover SLED operation from nearly two years ago.

The agency reported that during a 40 store sting in February 2020, a clerk at the Trader Joe’s store sold a 6-pack of beer to a 19-year-old who was working with them.

That was the store’s third offense in three years.

According to court documents, the first was in November 2017 where the grocery store chain paid a $500 fine. The second, in March 2018, resulted in a $1,000 fine.

The South Carolina Department of Revenue, which issues alcohol and beverage licenses, has a procedure for each consecutive violation in selling alcohol to an underage customer.

In this case, the DOR made a final determination in February 2021 and imposed a 45-day suspension.

But the store challenged that.

Based on the estimates provided by the store manager, 12 to 13% of the store’s sales are alcohol and it is considered to have the highest volume of alcohol sales for the chain in the region

A suspension of 45 days would cost the store an estimated $750,000.

A regional vice president testified this would cause a decline in customer satisfaction and possibly lead to hours cut for employees due to the loss in revenue.

However, the DOR allows for “mitigating factors” to reduce penalties.

These include documented training for employees, internal checks and automated age verification programs (i.e. register system requires manual input of birth date before sale can be completed).

Judge Shirley Robinson, citing these mitigating factors present at Trader Joe’s store 752 and its good standing in the community,  ordered the store to pay a $3,000 fine and institute a 10 day suspension instead of the 45 days.

The suspension also could not take place during the holiday season between November 19, 2021 and January 2, 2022.

The store can begin selling beer and wine again on Wednesday, January 12.

If there is a fourth violation within three years, the DOR could fully revoke the store’s permit, according to its penalty guidelines for ABL violations.

Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved.