Secret Shopper Campaign to Reduce Under 21 Alcohol Sales

Oct 9, 2020

In the upcoming weeks, Secret Shoppers will be visiting local alcohol retail establishments to assess ID checking practices.  Secret Shoppers, all of whom are of legal age to purchase alcohol but young enough to trigger an ID check, will hand a green card complimenting the clerk or server who correctly checks an ID, or a red card if the clerk or server fails to verify the purchaser’s age.

Unlike law enforcement inspections, licensees and staff will face no legal penalties for failing to check the ID with this program.  It will be conducted for the sole purpose of providing feedback to licensees on actual staff age-verification performance.

“We hope to increase the number of alcohol ID checks being performed in Garrett County with our Secret Shoppers and this new program that we are calling “Green Thumbs UP, Red Thumbs DOWN,” said project coordinator, Lori Peck.  “A focal point of this program will be incentivizing the staff at alcohol retail establishments for conducting proper ID checks.”

Fake ID’s have become very sophisticated, and to recognize those staff who inspect ID’s carefully, each will be rewarded with an incentive. Prior to the Green Thumbs UP, Red Thumbs DOWN visits, the name of the Secret Shopper will be sent to all alcohol retailers. The checks will be repeated again in six months.

Green Thumbs UP, Red Thumbs DOWN is funded by Garrett County Health Department’s Substance Abuse Block Grant. One of the goals of the program is to evaluate current retail practices and educate about best practices to prevent underage sales of alcohol.  Through the years, the Health Department and the Liquor Control Board have funded alcohol compliance checks and vendor education about underage drinking laws, proper ID checking, and the protocol for compliance checks.

This Green Thumbs UP, Red Thumbs DOWN initiative is supported and endorsed by the Garrett County Liquor Control Board, and also the Maryland State Police.

The program is partially funded by the Maryland Department of Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. For more information, contact Lori Peck at 301-334-7730 or 301-895-3111.