The Family Dollar store at 2007 23rd St. in Columbus appears to be one step closer to obtaining a retail liquor license.
After much discussion, the Columbus City Council during its regular meeting on Monday, March 6th, voted in favor of giving its recommendation to the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission in regard to Family Dollar store obtaining a Class B liquor license pending the Columbus Police Department visiting the store again and confirming working security cameras have been installed.
Columbus Police Department Chief Charles Sherer informed the City Council during the March 6th meeting that the CPD investigator who previously visited the store had expressed two concerns about the Family Dollar location obtaining a liquor license: The lack of security cameras and staffing.
Representatives from the local Family Dollar store, as well as parent company Dollar Tree Inc., addressed the City Council during the public hearing portion of the meeting. Jonathan Crumly, an Atlanta-based representative of Dollar Tree Inc., first spoke to the Council and said he was told by company officials that video cameras had been installed in the store earlier that same day on Monday, March 6th. Those security cameras, the Dollar Tree Inc. group later noted, can be monitored by the corporate office at any given time. Crumly also cited data from the company’s manager of asset protection.
“What he based on internal reporting is that there is a very infrequent rate of shoplifting in general at Family Dollar stores,” Crumly said. “Within those 42 total stores, 12 are licensed in the state to sell alcohol. Those stores experience the exact same level of shoplifting, which we determined to be less than one report per year for these stores. And that goes back over the past two years.”
As far as the concern over staffing, Family Dollar officials said they usually have at least two people in the stores, especially during nighttime hours. The store typically only has one person working the morning shift, the company officials noted.
Terry Anheuser, a Family Dollar district manager based out of Colorado who is training the new district manager for the local area, told the City Council that alcohol is located near registers where staff members always have a direct line of sight from the cash register.
Council members asked pointed questions to gather as much information as possible, including about underage drinking. Third Ward Councilman Rich Jablonski specifically asked about the number of underage sales the company knew of in Nebraska, to which Crumly replied by saying he wasn’t aware of any.
Councilman Charlie Bahr said he visited the Family Dollar store on Monday after receiving an email from company officials that the cameras had been installed and got a look from the backroom. Bahr said the cameras appeared to be up and functional, adding that he was impressed.
After hearing from the Dollar Tree representatives and the police chief, the council debated whether its recommendation should be based on the security cameras, staffing, or both. Bahr said he had spoken with a representative who used to work at two old liquor stores in Columbus, who noted he had been the only employee on staff.
Mayor Jim Bulkley said he didn’t think it was the City of Columbus’ responsibility to dictate a business’ staffing needs, then reminded the company officials on hand that any misbehavior or issues stemming from the liquor license could result in it being revoked down the line.
The City Council ultimately approved a recommendation of approval for Family Dollar’s liquor license application contingent upon the verification of cameras being installed and operational. It also approved the application of Chad Thomas as manager in conjunction with the liquor license, contingent upon the liquor license application’s approval.
The Nebraska Liquor Control Commission will issue the liquor permit. The Columbus City Council’s decision was whether to recommend approval or denial to the commission.