Liquor Store Etiquette III: The Do’s and Don’ts

It’s your go-to beer snob back with round 3 of Liquor Store Etiquette! I know it’s been a while since the last time I wrote one of these, but you’ll have to accept my excuse: I’ve been too busy drinking beer fresh off the line at my new stomping grounds, 3 Stars Brewing Company. In this post I’ll go over the right way to return bottles (yes there is a right way), the habits of my favorite customers, and what drives me crazy at the register.

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  1. Only Return Bottles That You’d Want to Sort Yourself

Ah, bottle returns. The most annoying part of the job for any employee. Some stores are lucky enough to have machines that will force the customers to sort the products themselves. Cool. The problem with these is they can only be rented by the store (at least in Mass), so you have to get enough returns to not lose money on the investment. This leaves most small stores the task of sorting them by hand. This becomes infinitely worse when customers bring in nasty cans and bottles. Here are some easy rules to follow when it comes to returning bottles:

-Rinse your bottles. Nobody wants to get your stale beer all over their hands and clothes.
-Don’t bring back broken bottles, cans that have been shotgunned, or anything that may cut the employee. I’m not getting tetanus because of some lazy jabroni.
-If it’s a craft beer, bring your empties back to where you bought them. Most stores don’t accept returns for products they don’t carry. Don’t argue about it. We know the law, and the law says we are only required to take back items we’ve sold.
-Don’t bring back cans that have been crushed/can’t be scanned or empties you found under your deck that have been there for three years and have now accumulated all sorts of mold, dirt, earth and funk.

If you are unwilling to do any of these things, either recycle them like a normal person or bring them to a redemption center. If you do take them to a redemption center, don’t be surprised if they turn you away. Oftentimes, they are just as strict as retail stores.

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2. Enough With the Cliche Jokes

I’m all for stupid dad jokes. Just ask my wife, she’ll tell you. But, most of the time, these types of jokes should stay at home. Retail workers and service employees hear the same stupid jokes over and over again. And, after the second time hearing a joke, it gets difficult to be fake-nice. Obviously, that’s part of the job. But, you should aspire to not make yourself look like a jackass every time you go somewhere. I’d say at least once a day I get some moronic answer to the yes or no question of “Is there anything I can help you find today?”

Some common responses:

-the winning Megaball ticket
-a million bucks
-A one way ticket to (insert country here)
-a supermodel to be my wife

When you ask people that question over 100 times a day, your cheesy come back gets stale…fast! If I had $5 for every time I heard one of these, I’d be on beach somewhere thinking about how much those people suck.

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3. Pick the Staff’s Brain

My favorite customers are ones that look for recommendations. Of course, this relies on a competent staff. For the sake of this article, we’re assuming that’s usually the case. Great staff members know what their customers like and don’t like. They will not only keep products in mind for the next time they see these customers, but they’ll even go so far as to stock products specifically for them. I personally did this with at least a dozen products. There’s nothing wrong with the guy who only drinks Bud Light. Not a fan, but I can appreciate that it’s a crowd pleaser. However, the customers I look forward to helping are the ones who not only want to know what’s new and what I’m excited about but also purchase products based on my recommendations as often as their livers allow.

4. Don’t Waste the Staff’s Time

This point runs off of my previous one: if you are going to ask for help, listen to what I have to say. Don’t waste my time by asking me a question and then immediately shutting off your brain. God gave you ears for a reason. It also helps to avoid having the same conversation with the same staff member every time you visit a shop. Oh, you like Cabernet Franc? I fucking know, Harvey! You’ve told me this every time I’ve seen you for the past 5 years. What’s that? You’re just going to get Bud Light even though I spent the last 20 minutes explaining to you the difference between every IPA we stock? Well, fuck you too, Susan! Don’t bother starting these conversations if you’re just going to ignore our advice and get the same shitty product you came in for in the first place? I don’t need to be there for you to pick out crap. I’ve got plenty of work to do without your dumb ass wasting my time telling me you just can’t seem to get as much head in Massachusetts as you did in Delaware (either pour more enthusiastically or talk to your wife, Bill).

Well, that’s enough complaining for me today. I’m getting near the end of my liquor store complaints, but still have a few left in the tank. Hopefully, Part IV will be out a little quicker than Part III. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy and employ these tips!

About Dom

I grew up in Natick, Mass, and was raised on everything Boston. I received a media production degree from Quinnipiac, which has gone under-utilized for years. Now, thanks to my wife, I'll be traveling the world alongside a member of the Unites States Foreign Service, beer in hand, while I finally put some of that college knowledge to use.
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