Angelo’s Manager Wants a Walmart and Other Quality Quotes

In the August 17 issue of the Free Press Advocate, we were treated to some ridiculous quotes made against Berkot’s selling beer and wine. Wasting no time today, to the quotes we go.

Former Wilmington mayor Roy Strong spoke against Berkot’s, saying “I don’t understand why everybody wants cheap beer. We don’t want to end up making more beer available for teens. We need to make it harder for them to get alcohol.”

Keeping beer prices artificially high does not prevent teens from acquiring it. It’s not like they’re walking down to Wee-Sips and walking out with two cases of beer now. The same will hold true at Berkot’s. If you know of anything to the contrary Mr. former mayor, maybe you should speak up. If there are back door deals going on the police should be involved. The sad truth of the matter is teens who want to drink will find a way. Underage drinking has been a problem long before Berkot’s existed. Berkot’s selling beer and wine has absolutely no effect on underage drinking. Be a better parent if you don’t want your child drinking illegally.

Superintendent of the Wilmington School District Jay Plese asked and answered his own question, “Do we need more liquor establishments. I don’t think so.” Continuing with his small minded thoughts, “I don’t want to see the town grow by 5,000 people and issuing more liquor licenses turns it into a health issue for the community, too.”

I think Mr. Plese’s comment about not wanting the town to grow is the most honest anybody has been about this matter. Many people are afraid of Wilmington growing. They think Berkot’s will get a liquor license and suddenly the Home Depot will be building across the street from Ace. I wish. Saying issuing more liquor licenses is a health issue is a joke. It’s downright insulting. Do you think so lowly of the people of Wilmington that we will all become drunkards at the sight of more reasonably priced beer and wine? If it’s such a health issue, why don’t you start a campaign to close down the liquor stores. All of them. Make Wilmington a dry city. Is there nothing you can do to make our schools better with your $171,264 2010 salary? Maybe you could spend some of your free time helping kids not get run over by cars instead of telling adults where we should spend our money.

Another former mayor, Tony McGann, also commented on the alleged public health issue.

“Citizen” Bob Weilding expressed concern over giving the mayor the power to issue licenses. He said “My concern is the ordinance would give the mayor the right to give a license whenever and to whomever he wants. There would be no representation by aldermen to the people in their wards.”

I put “citizen” in quotes because the newspaper was not being very straightforward in this article. Sure, he’s a citizen, but as reported May 26, 2010, Bob Weilding “helps oversee the stores doing business under Angelo’s Inc.” So with that disclaimer out of the way, I also don’t think the mayor should have unlimited power to assign licenses. There should be a set of requirements laid out. If a business meets those requirements, they can pay whatever the fees are and have a license. Simple and fair. Most importantly with this quote, I hope Weidling’s connection to Angelo’s was an innocent oversight, and not the paper being intentionally deceitful in choosing to not remind the readers of a fact that is critical to the man’s judgment.

Jeff Shell, manager of Wee-Sips, brought in some irrelevant statistics to try to make his case. He provided information stating that Wilmington has had the lowest population growth percentage of the surrounding towns in the past 10 years. “It is my opinion, based on the 2010 census, that our community has not grown enough to support issuing unlimited beer and wine licenses.”

Well Mr. Shell, it is my opinion that you are only concerned about your bottom line. There’s nothing wrong with that, but don’t be making nonsensical arguments about what you think the town can support. It is not Wilmington’s responsibility to keep supporting your business. Provide great products and great service, and the business will follow. Even if our population growth was 100% you wouldn’t think it is “enough” to support unlimited licenses. You’re afraid about losing your business. Just call it like it is.

Jay Penny of Angelo’s Liquors decided to fight fire with fire. Trying to deflect attention away from the fact that their prices are higher, he went on the offensive. Claiming the same ten specific items bought at Walmart and Berkot’s were $10 cheaper at Walmart, “I don’t know if we have a liquor problem or a grocery problem? What is the real issue? Why are people shopping outside of Wilmington?”

Zing! I bet Walmart has cheaper beer and wine than you too, though. Their alcohol is probably cheaper than Berkot’s would be too. I think you were trying to make an argument against Berkot’s, but it sounded like an argument for Walmart, but I’m sure you’d throw a fit if Walmart wanted to build in town. The people who leave town to buy groceries because they think food prices at Berkot’s are too high are going to continue to do so.

I don’t think I’ve seen anybody claim Berkot’s has prices cheaper than Walmart. Without a major corporation coming into town, local prices are always going to be higher than taking a trip to Joliet to go to the Targets and Walmarts of the world. The problem here is trying to stop local business from competing with other local business.

The paper said the count was six against, two in favor of the added licenses. So the six against were two business owners (Shell and Penny), two former mayors (Strong and McGann), a guy who “helps oversee” Angelo’s (Weidling), and the school superintendent. Such a diverse group of good old boys club minded people!

One last quote for you today. Before this was brought up again, Fourth Ward Alderman Helen Hoppe said “After I voted no the last time this came up, I had a lot of people call me and tell me my job is not for the people who own the stores, my job is for the people in this town, and they all want it.”

That’s exactly right. It’s sad how our elected officials would even have to be reminded of this. Your job as an alderman is not to vote how you feel. It’s not to vote based on your personal moral system. It’s not to vote based on your faith. It’s not to vote based on personal financial gain, grudges, or an. Your job is to represent the people of your ward. Maybe if you listened the first go around, you wouldn’t have had all those people calling you to remind you that it’s not your job to protect three business owners.

Have you seen any other crazy quotes about this mess? Let us know and we’ll break them down in a future post.

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  1. Idk who the author of these articles is, but KUDOS to you. Thank you for being able to separate ‘fact’ from ‘opinion’  Finally someone has clearly pointed out the small minded thinking that has stunted this town for to long!

  2. I was not impressed with the article. I was confused about the difference between facts and opinions. The established store owners have a right to charge what they want, and to have whatever opinion they want. I’d say no too, and I don’t know anyone anywhere that wouldn’t if they were in the store owners shoes. This article is seething with opinion and a rather snarky one at that.
    Competition is good in some ways because it brings out the good and the bad in small town business owners. It will be interesting if this trend continues 20 years from now as we are surrounded by large corporations and the towns people that stayed will be saying “remember when small mom and pop stores were here…” “Yeah, those were cool, whatever happened to them?” “We found out we could save a few dollars at these stores so we brought them in”
    It would be interesting to hear the real truth behind the liquor license scadal of 2011.

    • Thanks for taking the time to read, your response is appreciated. Please keep in mind that this is an opinion blog. We do not pretend to be a news outlet. The news reported is basically done in order to get the opinion about any particular news story out. To call this article “seething with opinion” and “rather snarky” is exactly what we set out to accomplish.

      You are right that the store owners have the right to charge whatever they want. They should not be running to the city to be protected from another business selling similar products for less. If the liquor stores have the right to sell at whatever price they want to, Berkot’s has the right to sell at lower prices if they choose to.

      We don’t have any problem at all with the liquor stores selling at higher prices, the problem is trying to prevent anybody else from competing.

      This issue today I feel will be a pivotal moment in the future of business in Wilmington. It certainly will be interesting to look back at this time twenty years from now and see how much has changed. There will always be a market for mom and pop stores. There’s no reason to believe we can’t have both those and larger corporate entities.

      Again, thank you for your comments and I hope you check back in with us!

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