Loyola students over 21 could soon get yet another option to buy booze if the recently opened the Target store (6422 N. Sheridan Road) gets permission from city officials to sell alcohol.
For more than two decades, a liquor moratorium on North Sheridan Road has stretched from Devon Avenue to the Loyola CTA Red Line Station. The recently constructed Target store is hoping to change that.
Target officials have been in talks with the 49th Ward Aldermanic Office to lift the liquor moratorium, which prohibits the sale of packaged alcohol. Packaged alcohol includes any sealed and labeled liquor meant to be taken off-site, so bars and restaurants can serve liquor but grocery or liquor stores can’t sell it.
Representatives from Target’s corporate office and the manager at the Rogers Park location didn’t respond to requests for comment.
If lifted, Target would be allowed to apply for a packaged goods liquor license through the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection which licenses businesses and public vehicles and protects consumers from fraud.
Residents were able to voice feedback at an October meeting hosted by 49th Ward Alderwoman Maria Hadden’s office, according to Torrence Gardner, the director of economic and community development for the 49th Ward.
Based on community feedback, he said residents have been opposed to lifting the moratorium because residents are already frustrated with the Target due to noise problems from deliveries and the impact they believe it has on local businesses.
“We walked into a situation where residents in the immediate area were not a fan of having the Target there to begin with,” Gardner said. “Many were opposed [to the Target] before we got into office.”
Liquor licenses are handled by the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, so typically Target wouldn’t need the ward’s approval. However, the moratorium is within the alderwoman’s control which is why the store needs the alderwoman’s support, Gardner said.
The previous office, run by former 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore, “promised” Target to lift the moratorium and open the door to apply for the liquor license, according to Gardner.
Moore said Target representatives first brought up the issue in fall 2018 and he told the corporation they’d have to speak to the community before he made a decision. He said he would give them a “fair hearing” after the election season was over.
However, Moore lost the 2019 aldermanic election to Hadden and couldn’t hold a community meeting about the liquor license.
Moore instated a ward-wide moratorium in 1991 after he was first elected to give the community more control over liquor licenses.
“Proliferation of liquor stores was a big issue when I was running for alderman and this was a new tool … and I decided to take advantage of it to keep licenses down to a reasonable amount,” Moore told The Phoenix.
Gardner said Hadden’s office hasn’t taken a position on the issue but tentatively plans to announce one mid-November during budget meetings. He said because of the moratorium, the issue reaches beyond just Target getting a liquor license. If the liquor moratorium was lifted, the ward would have to wait a year before they could reinstate it, which could affect both current and future businesses, he said.
Businesses that got their liquor licenses while it was lifted would be “grandfathered” into the system if it was reinstated, which is how 7-Eleven (6401 N. Sheridan Road) is able to sell packaged liquor, Gardner said.
Pradeep Patel, the owner of Hops & Grapes — a liquor store at 6816 N. Sheridan Road — said he opposes lifting the moratorium because “big box” stores like Target have a history of eliminating smaller stores like his own.
“This development will definitely adversely affect not only … my establishment but also open up a Pandora’s box of more liquor applications in the area,” he said.
The impact of big box stores on local businesses has been called the “Wal-Mart Effect,” after a 2006 book by Charles Fishman detailed the effect Wal-Mart has on local economies, including driving down prices and putting extra pressure on small businesses.
Holly Hahn, who has lived in Rogers Park for 30 years, said there are plenty of other options to buy liquor locally. She said the small shops depend on Loyola students to maintain their business and Target might get in the way of that.
“If [business] went away because big box Target started selling packaged goods, I think it would destroy the businesses,” the 57-year-old said. “If students were able to buy a case of beer [at Target] for less then I don’t think those local businesses would survive.”
Emily Doermer, a 21-year-old Loyola senior, said she doesn’t shop for alcohol often but she wouldn’t use Target if they got a liquor license because she already avoids shopping there.
“I try to shop local,” the psychology major said. “I know Rogers Park residents were concerned when Target moved in and I want to make sure I’m spending my money in a productive way.”
Michael Bellino, a 21-year-old Loyola senior, said there isn’t a huge need for Target to get a liquor license because there are other options, but thinks it wouldn’t have much of an impact on the community if Target was able to get a license.
“The majority of Loyola’s population who are able to get liquor … are pretty responsible and if that was an option at Target we would be responsible with the amount we would buy and how frequently we would buy it,” the advertising and public relations major said.