Although many students at Ohio State consume alcohol, it may be a surprise that the Giant Eagle on West Fifth Ave. sold more money in spirituous liquor sales during fiscal year 2012 than the Kroger near campus on High Street.
Matt Mullins, a spokesman for the Ohio Division of Liquor Control, said that in fiscal year 2012 Kroger located at 1350 North High Street sold $2,648,427.62 in spirituous liquor. Spirituous liquor is classified as being over 21 percent alcohol, which does not include beer, wine or low proof alcohol, said Mullins.
Giant Eagle located at 851 West Fifth Ave. sold $6,350,728.18 in spirituous liquor during fiscal year 2012, said Mullins. The Giant Eagle at 777 Neil Ave., closer to the campus area, is not a contract liquor agency which means they are able to sell beer, wine and low proof liquor but not spirituous liquor, he said.
The total money sold in spirituous liquor sales is not the profit made by the business, said Mullins. The business makes 4 percent of the wholesale liquor and 6 percent of the retail liquor sales, he said.
A spokesman for the Ohio Wholesale Beer and Wine Association said that due to sales competition between alcohol distributors, dollar sales for individual businesses are not readily available through the state.
Melissa Blume, a forth year studying human development and family science, thought it was “weird” that Kroger sold less liquor than Giant Eagle but she said, “it could be because there are a lot of young professionals (near Giant Eagle)”. She added that she lives on the North side of campus and for her and others near her Kroger isn’t as convenient as a gas station or local liquor store.
The Campus State Liquor Store located at 2465 North High Street just North of West Blake Ave. had dollar sales of $6,797,365.01 in fiscal year 2012, said Mullins.
There are different permit classes available depending on the business entity selling alcohol. For example, a C1 permit is for beer carry out only and costs a business $252 dollars per year, while a D5 permit that allows full liquor sale privileges costs $2344 per year, according to the Ohio Division of Liquor Control website.
Mullins explained that there are three main entities in the state of Ohio that control liquor sales. The Ohio Division of Liquor Control handles the permit sales, the Ohio Investigative Unit of the Department of Public Safety handles enforcement of the laws, and the Ohio Liquor Control Commission enacts the enforcement.
“We all work together, but also separately,” said Mullins who explained the system allows for “checks and balances.”
In order to obtain a permit, there must first be a permit available to be sold. Mullins said that the number of permits distributed is based on each taxing district. The city of Columbus as a whole is considered one district.
Suann Cook, agent in charge of the Columbus District of the Ohio Investigative Unit, said there are approximately 24,000 permits issued in the state of Ohio.
However, many class permits are exempt from the allotted quota, said Mullins. The Arena District near downtown Columbus is considered a Community Entertainment District by the city of Columbus, which means any business in the district is allowed to file for a liquor sales permit regardless of the tax district quota. A CED permit is also $2,344 per year, the same as a D5 permit.
Feb. 1 of each year is the day inspections take place in Columbus. The renewal inspections check for regulated administrative issues such as proper sanitation, said Mullins.
Agents, like Cook, have the ability to issue violation notices against permits held by local businesses.
Administrative charges can include Sunday sales, after hour sales and selling to already intoxicated individuals, said Jacqueline Williams, the Executive Director of the Ohio Liquor Control Commission.
Several area businesses located along High Street near the OSU campus have had permit violations in calendar year 2012. According to dockets provided by the state of Ohio, the 14-0 Express Carryout, Large Bar, and Buckeye Express all had violations of selling to individuals under the legal age of 21. Large Bar also violated the rule regarding gift certificate use that says no more than 30 percent of a gift certificate may be used for liquor sales. In addition, Gusses Enterprises LLC and Scarlet and Gray Café had violations for insanitary conditions where alcoholic beverages were not maintained in potable conditions. Each of these cases are still open.
Cook said that while a violation for selling to a minor is considered a criminal offense, the customer and the seller are the individuals charged while the business itself would be required to go to a hearing at the commission. The underage individual purchasing the alcohol could be charged with a misdemeanor of the first degree and the seller could be charged with an unclassified misdemeanor.
The commission itself acts as a court but only handles the administrative matters, said Cook.
There are three commissioners that are the deciding factors on hearings. A permit violation could result in a fine, a suspension or a revocation, said Williams.
“A revocation is serious and there are usually a number of prior offenses,” said Williams.