by: Chris Legeros Updated:
Tumwater, Wash. - You couldn't buy liquor Monday at the Walmart store in Tumwater. In fact, you couldn't even find it. Instead of beer and wine in the coolers, there were stacks of Orange Crush. Coke was sitting on the shelf that usually holds bourbon.
The store's liquor license was suspended for five days because the state said it sold booze to a 19-year-old. Shopper Kelly Gould said, "If they're not checking ID, there's gotta be something wrong." The State Liquor Control Board said the violation happened in Tumwater on Aug. 31. A day earlier, a 20-year-old was able to buy a bottle of Burnett's Vodka at the Walmart in Lacey. That store just got its liquor license back last week after also having it suspended for five days. Capt. Lisa Reinke is with the Board's Enforcement Division. She said the minors were investigative aides who work for the state. They were sent into the Walmart stores to check for compliance with the law. Reinke said those aides carried their own vertical driver's licenses that are issued by the state to minors, not the horizontal ones that go to those over 21. Reinke said, "Obviously it was specific individuals that didn't pass at both of these locations or did not check the ID."
Each of the Walmart clerks were cited for selling to a minor, and each would typically face fines of $300 to $500. Ironically, Walmart has its own Responsible Vendor Program that trains employees not to sell liquor or tobacco to minors. Reinke said, "I think they really are making an effort to train their employees, I'm not sure in this case what the mistakes were and what happened." The discount chain issued a statement this afternoon. It read, "As soon as we were made aware of this issue, we took the appropriate steps to correct the issue, including re-emphasizing our policy with associates as well as providing additional training to help insure this doesn't happen again."