“Mystery shoppers” test Easthampton’s alcohol policies

EASTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Bars, restaurants, and package stores throughout Easthampton were tested Thursday night by “mystery shoppers;” making sure staffs are checking IDs before selling alcohol.

“Mystery shoppers” went to 31 Easthampton bars, restaurants and liquor stores Thursday night without any ID. Just 3 out of 31 sold them drinks. Everywhere else, they were asked to present valid ID’s.

One shopper who went into Old Colony Package Store said, “They asked both of us for our ID’s and said if both us of didn’t have our ID’s, they wouldn’t be able to serve either one of us.”

It’s a reminder program run by the Easthampton Prevention Coalition and the town’s police department.

Bryan Simmons’ family owns Old Colony Package Store. He told 22News “You hear a lot of stories these days about underage drinking, and it’s very important that alcohol doesn’t get in hands of underage kids.”

The idea is to make sure anyone who appears to be under 40 years old is getting carded every time.

Coalition Coordinator Ruth Ever told 22News it’s all about reducing easy access to alcohol. She said, “We are trying to get the message across that no adults in Easthampton should be doing anything that will make it easy for kids to get access to any kinds of drug they shouldn’t be taking. Their brains are still developing.”

Easthampton Police Officer Alan Schadel said, “Especially with prom season coming up and graduation, all those types of things, this is a perfect time of the year to get that message out to try to keep our young people as safe as we possibly can.”

The “Rewards and Reminders” initiative is sponsored by the Easthampton Prevention Coalition and the Easthampton Police Department. Bartenders and clerks who checked IDs were given a $5 gift card to local coffee or ice cream stores.