Monday, May 4, 2009

CVS Withdraws Request to Sell Alcohol in Flossmoor

When the 5 representatives of CVS were presented to the meeting, they were all smiles. Roger Molski, outgoing mayor, gave them bad advice. "Address your remarks to the Trustees," he told them, "because they are the ones who have a vote."

This was only the most recent indicator of Molski's detachment from Flossmoor. Because it wasn't the Trustees that CVS needed to win over, it was the community. The meeting started with 3 Trustees publicly committed to voting against allowing the drug chain to selling packaged liquor across the street from H-F High School. But given the smiles that the CVS people walked in with, it was hard not to think that the deal was in. The other 3 Trustees (Mitros, Minga and Hoag) seemed inclined to vote for the granting of the liquor license, and Molski would break the tie (obviously, in favor of CVS).

What was obvious from the start was that CVS didn't really appreciate Flossmoor. Nor did they exhibit any understanding of the unique character and charm of our community. And they certainly had absolutely no appreciation for the importance of Homewood-Flossmoor High School to the community or our property values. Given that their primary contact had been with the mayor (for 6 and a half years, he told us last night), this cannot be much of a surprise.

The district manager for CVS tried to make two main arguments in support of granting them a liquor license. His first argument was that packaged liquor was already available from Jewel, which was less than a mile away from H-F. And that is true, although no one seems to think that kids are walking up to the Jewel from H-F. They won't even walk to the McDonald's that is across the street from Jewel, so it's really hard to imagine that Jewel is an alternative to what CVS was asking to do.

His second point centered around the specious claim that, well, CVS had a store across the street from Crystal Lake South High, and they didn't have any of these problems. Of course, as you can see, CVS is not located "across the street" from Crystal Lake South High School. It appears that a water treatment plant is located across the street from the High School.

Rather, CVS appears to be down the street from the high school and you'd have to walk past at least one neighborhood to get there. IOW, they lied to us. This can't be that much of a surprise, given the fact that Roger Molski -- the person they've apparently been dealing with -- has always been a little loose with the truth, as well. We have to accept the fact that CVS probably took their measure of our community through him and decided that they didn't have to really tell us the truth if they wanted to get what they wanted. We've been poorly served, and last night's meeting was the direct result of that.

We can only hope -- and expect -- change with the new administration.

In the end, the CVS representatives saw that this proposal had severely alienated them from our community, and perhaps has caused them irreparable harm. Many, many residents of Flossmoor reacted to their interest in selling packaged liquor in a retail store with horror. We don't allow that in Flossmoor, and we certainly didn't want our first store to sell hard liquor at retail to be across the street from the high school. More than one resident said to me, "I don't want the CVS store across the street from the high school, but I certainly don't want them selling alcohol."

It is clear that CVS has a lot to learn about Flossmoor. It doesn't appear that they are really interested in dealing with the village any differently than how they treat Harvey or Chicago Heights. They keep talking about their Neighborhood Drug Store model, but we already have four drug stores within a mile of where they want to locate. There isn't a real community interest in adding a fifth drug store to serve the village. So acting like they are doing us a great service is, well, stupid.

CVS isn't likely to be integrated into our community fabric with that attitude, and it certainly didn't help that they were willing to lie to us to squeeze an extra one percent of profits out of the store. They were willing to risk our children, our property values, and our community values for an extra one percent of profits. That's not a good neighbor. They've got a lot of bad will to overcome with these kinds of tactics.

The CVS representatives left the meeting looking pretty sullen. It certainly didn't help that they had to walk past a gauntlet of village residents who had more to say, and not all of it pleasant. But the fact is CVS withdrew their proposal to sell hard liquor in Flossmoor -- for now. Village residents will have to remain eternally vigilant as long as CVS is here to keep them from trying this again. Village politics has probably been changed forever, as we can expect the chain to try to dominate them in the future, in order to build support for allowing them to sell packaged liquor. I suppose Flossmoor got a little less charming last night. What a legacy to begin a business with...

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