Fellow Isthmus contributor Kevin Bargnes and I are listening to the 21st Alder, Rosemary Lee, rail against granting Walgreens a wine-only liquor license.
Lee's main argument: There are already plenty of liquor distributors throughout the city why do we need more?
"I don't think it's necessary," she says.
Very little that takes place in the free market system is "necessary." It's not necessary for Walgreens to sell rubber duckies either. Toddlers would probably find a substitute form of entertainment, or their parents could order them off eBay.
Other arguments presented at the meeting are more convincing. Two social workers have testified that problem drinkers are over-exposed to alcohol everywhere they go. Even Rosemary's point that alcohol has "saturated" the lives of adolescents is a legitimate point.
But necessary? Of course it's not necessary. But that's not the point!
What may be necessary for Walgreens is the ability to compete with other retailers. As a representative of the company says, many other large drug stores sell alcohol. "Our typical customer buys four items. If one of those items is an alcoholic beverage, that's one reason for a customer go to another drugstore," he says.
However, he is speaking on national terms, which is a rather moot point in the local context. Walgreens is not competing with other drugstores for alcohol sales it's competing with liquor stores and grocery stores in the area.