Building Relationships with Local Alcohol and Tobacco Retailers

Building Relationships with Local Alcohol and Tobacco Retailers

There are many ways you can build the ever-so-important relationship between your coalition and your local retailers.  Here are some tips:

Involve store owners and managers in planning. Understanding the challenges local retailers face is helpful in establishing effective coalition strategies. Having the buy-in of store owners and managers can go a long way in gaining local support for strategies, especially new policies. Use this opportunity to find advocates in the business sector.

Go to the beer board meetings. This can be helpful not only to build your relationship with the retailers but also with the beer board. When a new establishment applies for a permit, speak with the owner and manager after the board vote. Introduce yourself and explain the coalition and how it can support them.  Provide them with a new permit packet (see item 3) and provide your contact information for any questions that may come up or any support they may need.  And don’t forget to speak with the board before and after the meeting so they get to know you and the coalition’s involvement in the community.  Let them know that you are a resource for them as well.

Provide retailer packets. Packets can include items such as an infographic with local alcohol and tobacco use by minors, penalties for non-compliance, policy guides for owners and managers, the Tennessee Tobacco Retailers Education Guide, an ID Checking Guide, an ID coder, a lighted magnifying glass, an age verification calendar, and “We ID” window clings and table tents.  These materials can be hand-delivered to new permit holders at beer board meetings and annually by coalition volunteers to all retailers as dates and information changes yearly.  This gives the retailer another interaction and many times, they will discuss questions or issues they are having that they may not have reached out to the coalition to address specifically.

Thank compliant outlets. Compliance data can be received from TABC or local law enforcement for alcohol compliance and the Department of Agriculture for tobacco compliance.  Delivering “thank you” letters is another face-to-face interaction between the retailer and members from your coalition.  Let them know you appreciate their vigilance in maintaining compliance with underage drinking laws and their focus on community health and safety.  Many retailers also appreciate a decal they can display to show that they are in compliance with alcohol and tobacco laws.  Take photos of the newly installed decals and post them on social media and/or send a press release to local news outlets to promote and congratulate those businesses who passed compliance checks.

Send a letter to non-compliant outlets. Let outlets who were not in compliance know the coalition is there to support them in becoming compliant and has resources to help them do so.  Offer to review their policies and make suggestions, provide them with a list of nearby Responsible Alcohol Sales classes, let them know what age verification materials are available to them and why compliance with these laws is so important to your community.

Maintaining positive relationships with your local alcohol and tobacco retailers can take prevention in your community to the next level. Take time to build capacity: in the end, you may find your goals align more than you once thought.


By Stacey Pratt, ASAP of Anderson

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Stephanie Strutner

Stephanie Strutner

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