Why Are All the Bodega’s and Liquor Stores Open?

Why are all the corner stores still open? In my neighborhood, there’s a package store right on Bill Arp Road next to the Walmart. It’s been consistently open every day from 8am to 11pm, including when Governor Brian Kemp issued a “shelter-in-place” mandate on April 2nd, 2020. During this period, Governor Kemp instructed Georgians to isolate themselves except for essential businesses. Kemp did not define what “essential business” meant within his executive order, but can we assume that Liquor stores are not a necessary aspect to any community, right? Should individuals prioritize toilet paper, bread, as well as Tito’s Vodka on their “PANDEMIC-MUST-HAVE” grocery list?

Common Alcoholic Beverages found in Bodegas


We can assume that the American population sees alcohol as a necessity based on data provided by CNN.  CNN noted that “Alcohol sales have increased by 55% during the third week of March” (CNN, 2019).  Following this spike in alcohol consumption, Forbes analyzed the growth of alcohol sales during this time. They noted that Nielsen (a global provider of market research) Vice President, Danelle Kosmal commented that, “28% of frequent on-premise drinkers said they purchased more alcohol in the past month at a physical store, compared to 15% of the average drinker claiming to purchase more at a store”. (Forbes, 2020). It seems like the pandemic and alcohol go hand-in-hand, so where are these liquor stores?  

Remember that package store on Bill Arp Road? It’s located in Douglasville, Georgia. This is an area where 79% of the population consists of Black and Latinx civilians. This package store, along with others, has longer store hours, which allows for more revenue to come in each day. This scenario can be replicated with bodegas in Washington Heights, NYC, an area where 56.3% of the population consists of Black and Latinx communities. Governor Cuomo of New York, “ordered all non-essential businesses statewide to close, in an attempt to curb the spread of infection. Supermarkets, pharmacies, laundromats, gas stations, liquor stores, and restaurants have all been declared essential businesses. They will be allowed to remain open” (New York Post, 2020).  Is declaring “liquor stores” as an essential business beneficial to the communities in which they reside, or is this product of negligence that will overwhelmingly affect this demographic?

Individuals wearing PPE during COVID19 outbreak.

Alcohol consumption is encouraged and enabled onto these communities, which is the same demographic that is being profoundly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. National Geographic reported that one-third of all COVID related deaths have been within the black community. Salud America stated that 26.9% of reported COVID-19 deaths belong to the Latinx demographic. The stress of economic stability, safety, and various racial stigmas are weighing heavily on these communities during this outbreak. This can result in the mass consumption of alcohol to relieve stress and to ignore instability.  Liquor stores and food deserts are exceptionally prominent with PoC neighborhoods, but how can a pandemic be eradicated when basic human necessities aren’t met for those that are most impacted? How do we shift the importance of alcohol accessibility in these neighborhoods, to providing these individuals with culturally competent healthcare, safe living situations, and socioeconomic stability? These questions have a vast amount of credible answers but let’s conclude this post with three facts:

  1. There are more liquor stores in Brown and Black communities than grocery markets, especially in cities with low socioeconomic rates. This is a direct result of gentrification and systematic inequalities.
  2. Liquor stores are viewed as an “essential business” and will remain open in these neighborhoods. These are the same neighborhoods that are genuinely suffering from COVID related deaths. Opening liquor stores, and having them be the most accessible form of barter in this community is negligent.
  3. Racism isn’t just what you say, think, do, and feel. It is also what you allow.” Prioritizing liquor consumption in these areas, over basic human needs like safe housing, quality food, and quality health care allows Racism to be at the forefront during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Image shows population density in inner-city communities.


Renton, A. (2020, May 20th). Coronavirus pandemic: Updates from around the world. Retrieved May 21st, 2020, from https://www.cnn.com/world/live-news/coronavirus-pandemic-05-20-20-intl/index.html

2020 Executive Orders. (2020, April 03rd). Retrieved May 21st, 2020, from https://gov.georgia.gov/executive-action/executive-orders/2020-executive-orders

Micallef, J. (2020, April 06th). How The COVID-19 Pandemic Is Upending The Alcoholic Beverage Industry. Retrieved May 21st, 2020, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/joemicallef/2020/04/04/how-the-covid-19-pandemic-is-upending-the-alcoholic-beverage-industry/

U.S. Census. (2019, July 01st). U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Douglasville city, Georgia. Retrieved May 21st, 2020, from https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/douglasvillecitygeorgia

Stokes, D. (n.d.). White Privilege Quotes (87 quotes). Retrieved May 21st, 2020, from https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/white-privilege

Furnari, C. (2020, April 30th). Are Americans Drinking Their Way Through The Coronavirus Pandemic? Retrieved May 21st, 2020, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/chrisfurnari/2020/04/30/are-americans-drinking-their-way-through-the-coronavirus-pandemic/

Warerkar, T. (2020, March 24th). NYC Liquor and Wine Store Sales Are Skyrocketing During Ongoing Shutdown. Retrieved May 21st, 2020, from https://ny.eater.com/2020/3/24/21191721/nyc-liquor-wine-stores-sales-increase-coronavirus

Google. (n.d.). PoC Definition. Retrieved May 21st, 2020, from https://www.google.com/search?q=poc+meaning

Brooks, K. (2014, March 10th). Research shows food deserts more abundant in minority neighborhoods. Retrieved May 21st, 2020, from https://hub.jhu.edu/magazine/2014/spring/racial-food-deserts/

Hidalgo, S., ​Melton, A., McNamee, Caballero-Reynolds, A., Sisti, M., & Barrayn, L. (2020, April 29th). African Americans struggle with a disproportionate COVID death toll. Retrieved May 21st, 2020, from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/2020/04/coronavirus-disproportionately-impacts-african-americans/

Despres, C. (2020, May 14th). Coronavirus Case Rates and Death Rates for Latinos in the United States. Retrieved May 21st, 2020, from https://salud-america.org/coronavirus-case-rates-and-death-rates-for-latinos-in-the-united-states/

CDC. (2020, April 22nd). COVID-19 in Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups. Retrieved May 21st, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/racial-ethnic-minorities.html


One thought on “Why Are All the Bodega’s and Liquor Stores Open?

  1. I really enjoyed reading your blog. You brought up a lot of very important points. Deeming liquor stores as being more essential than parks baffles me. Of course, with parks, you still have to ensure that social distancing guidelines are followed. However, at least with parks people are able to be physically active and relieve stress, which is helpful for combating COVID-19. Access to parks is especially essential to undeserved communities because many of those communities lack sidewalks, street lights, and other amenities that are conducive to being safe and physically active.

    Also, COVID-19 has shed light on the systemic racism that has existed in this country for years. Black communities have always lacked the proper necessities needed for us to live healthy lives. It’s sad that our communities are filled with more liquor stores than grocery stores. Our decisions and unhealthy behaviors are largely influenced by the communities we live in. Therefore, it’s no surprise that we are being affected the worst in this pandemic. Health equity is something that needs to be addressed and until it’s addressed, we will always be more vulnerable and susceptible to unhealthy behaviors and adverse health outcomes.

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