In a rare move against a major corporation, the Maui County Liquor Control Board of Adjudication suspended the Wailuku Foodland’s liquor license for 14 days because of repeated incidents involving the selling of alcohol to minors.
The first two incidents were in the summer of 2001 and late 2002, and in the following years Foodland and its parent company Sack ‘N Save Foods instituted a number of reforms, attorney Craig Nakamura told the board during its May 4, 2006 hearing. “They are some of the most comprehensive in the state,” said Nakamura.
Nakamura and Sack ‘N Save officials told the board that all stores now carried signs warning employees they would get fired if they sold alcohol to a minor. They installed cash registers requiring cashiers to type in dates of birth for alcohol sales. And they made sure each cashier signed a statement of the rules governing alcohol sales every day before opening their register.
Yet none of those safeguards seemed to help Foodland last summer. On July 15, 2005, the LC pulled a minor decoy sting operation on the store. After selecting a six-pack of 12 ounce bottles of Smirnoff Twisted V Green Apple Malt Liquor—like an adult would spend hard-earned money on something like that—she walked up to a young cashier who just happened to be coming off a five-days suspension for some previous violation of Foodland regulations.
“Don’t you remember me from school?” the decoy apparently asked the cashier, who didn’t, but rang up the sale anyway without asking to see any ID. And that was that.
Nakamura and Sack ‘N Save officials even pointed out that their “family-run” business handles four million transactions each year and employs well over a thousand people. Perhaps it helped, because the board could have yanked their license for up to 30 days.