By Shereen Siewert
WAUSAU — City officials are contemplating a ban on drive-up alcohol sales, a response to the growing popularity of online ordering and pickup services.
Customers are increasingly purchasing alcohol through such services, which are known industry-wide as “click and collect,” according to the Wisconsin Alcohol Police Project. To include alcohol in “click and collect” sales, retailers are required to take specific actions at the municipal level to comply with state law.
In Wisconsin, alcohol sales must be face-to-face and take place on a licensed premises. The purchaser must be at least 21 years old and cannot be intoxicated, while the seller must be a licensed operator or under the supervision of a licensed operator.
Applebee’s and other retailers are asking municipalities including Wausau to designate parking stalls used for “click and collect” deliveries as part of the licensed premises for the alcohol license to allow alcohol sales.
In a Sept. 26 memo, Jeff Gress, chairperson of Healthy Marathon County, cautioned city officials to carefully consider the impact of allowing greater access to alcohol in Wausau. Gress pointed to strong evidence that increasing the number of outlets where alcohol is purchased increases consumption, while at the same time putting an extra burden on the business.
The practice remains banned in a range of other Wisconsin communities including Madison and Neenah. Madison officials in December recommended approving “click and collect” alcohol sales, but Mayor Paul Soglin vetoed the service weeks later.
Members of the city’s public health and safety committee will consider the issue during their regularly scheduled meeting, slated for 5:15 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15 at City Hall. The meeting is open to the public.