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Steps to Prevent the Sale of Alcohol and Tobacco to Minors at Your Truckstop

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Darren's Great Ideas for Independent Operators, Operations


Welcome to the newest post in our blog series, Darren’s Great Ideas! for Independent Operators

Steps to Prevent the Sale of Alcohol and Tobacco to Minors at Your Truckstop

During our most recent NATSO Show Bonus Workshop, I received several questions about tobacco and alcohol sales sold to under age consumers. If not handled correctly, these two areas can cost truckstop/travel center retailers tens of thousands of dollars in lost sales, embarrassment within the local community and significant costs in lost employees. However, there are some simple steps your operation should be taking to avoid selling these products to under age consumers. We’ll look at those procedures as part of a two-part series.

Part I: Avoiding Selling Alcohol to Under Age Consumers

  1. It is imperative that all consumers are aware of your company’s policies and procedures as it relates to the sale of alcohol to underage consumers by posting the appropriate declarations and signage within your establishment. Please check with local and state authorities to verify where and how these should be posted within your operation.

  2. “We Card” programs are a wonderful source for training, education and knowledge.

  3. It is never OK to sell alcohol to underage customers.

  4. It is good business practice to get in the habit of asking every customer for valid proof of age identification when purchasing alcohol, regardless of age.

  5. Ensure your staff understands that employees and managers are responsible for following company policy and the law when it comes to the sale of alcohol all the time, every time.

  6. While laws in certain states may allow others forms of ID to be used, at a minimum driver’s license and or state ID should be presented when purchasing alcohol.

  7. Other forms of ID should not be accepted as proof of legal age. These include a credit card, Social Security card, library card, etc.

  8. Never rely on other people’s word as proof of age. This is particularly critical in smaller communities where everyone knows one another. Always follow the company policy and the law. Always refuse the sale when they cannot prove their age.

  9. Remember in every case when it comes to purchasing alcohol, the law says that you do not need to sell alcohol to customers who cannot prove that they are of legal drinking age. The only way to prove this is with a valid ID.

  10. Never sell alcohol to persons that are intoxicated. NEVER. If the sale is forced on you by the customer, never ring up the alcohol. Set the money aside and follow your company policy and procedures. If he forcibly takes the alcohol from you or he threatens harm, immediately follow your company’s policy and procedures on the handling of situations like this and then call the police. In both cases, never take an action to refuse the sale of alcohol and turn it into a sale. When you have refused the sale of alcohol to a customer and they have left with it, it is now theft.

  11. Always remember to move the alcohol away from the reach of the customer who you plan on refusing sale to. Always be friendly and polite, but be firm and state the law. If need be, call for management assistance.

Next month, I’ll delve into similar steps you can take to prevent tobacco sales to minors. 


/// Read more Darren's Great Ideas for Independent Operators posts here.  



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About the Author

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte serves as Vice President of Membership at NATSO. In this role, he directs recruitment, retention and customer service for truckstop and travel plaza members. He is also responsible for developing NATSO products and programs, particularly those relating to education, research and training for truckstop and travel plaza operators.

Schulte also leads NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program. A Profitable Retail Review is a custom assessment of your truckstop, including recommendations for every aspect of your facility, from actionable ideas to improve revenue to tactical ways to improve your net operating costs. Learn about NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program here.

Schulte joined NATSO with nearly three decades of experience in truckstop and travel plaza operations and merchandising. Schulte has worked for: 

  • Love's Travel Stops and Country Stores,
  • HESS Corporation, 
  • Petro Stopping Centers, and
  • TSC Global/Barjan LLC.