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Town Square Market Allegedly Sells Liquor To Underage Kids

11:53 AM, Feb 20, 2012   |    comments
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Video: Anatomy of a Party Bust coming up Thursday at 11 p.m.

Video: Where are your kids buying booze?

Video: "9 Wants To Know:" Where Are Your Kids Buying Booze?

9News Now's Andrea McCarren confronts a store owner after she saw under aged teens buying alcohol.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) -- It's 11 o'clock. Do you know where your children are? 

Underage drinking has become an epidemic. This reporter and a 9 News Now photographer set out two months ago to get a rare, inside look at what many children in our area are doing when they're out with friends.

We found a place in Northwest Washington to show us a place teenagers have allegedly been buying alcohol for years.

The mother of a 16 year-old girl tipped us off to this liquor store, after she learned her daughter had been buying beer and vodka there, every week.

We asked a different teenager, who had walked out of the store after buying booze, if he ever had to use a fake ID to buy alcohol at this store. 

"Usually, no," the boy said. 

This boy was not alone. For several weeks, we watched and videotaped dozens of teenagers buying alcohol at Town Square Market liquor store without being asked for identification.

We ran into an 18-year-old woman outside of the of the liquor store shortly afterward.

"I'm 18. It is very easy and we've been buying here for almost two years," she said.

We asked her, in the past two years, had she ever been asked for id at the store and she said "Like once."

Night after night, with the help of a 23 year-old 9News Now staff member, we interviewed the young buyers, using a hidden microphone.

9News Now staff member: "I heard this is like the place to go when you don't have i.d.?"

Girl: "Yup. It is.  Wait, without one or with a crappy one? 

9NNSM: "Both. I'm just looking for a place to buy." 

Boy: "Either way, you can give this place a shot." 

9NNSM: "Really? You guys have done it before?" 

Boy: "We've been coming here for years.

Most teens told us they were 16 years old; some were even buying for their younger friends.

We approached a boy who had just purchased alcohol and identified ourselves as journalists. We asked him if he had purchases alcohol and if he was under the age of 21. He simply said: "Sorry."

We had seen enough, so we entered Town Square Market and confronted the owner of the establishment.

9News Now's Andrea McCarren: "Sir, we are with Channel 9 News. We have been watching your store for weeks and weeks, and you've been selling to underage children. It is illegal to sell under 21."

That's when the confrontation became heated.

Store Owner: "Miss, I check everybody. (in a heavy accent) No id, No sale."

9NNAM: "How come we've watched this for weeks and weeks since November and 16 year olds, 14 year olds, buying Natural Ice, coming out of here with cases of beer?"

Store Owner: "Why you complain?! (yelling at us)."

9NNAM: "Because I've seen children buying here. Man: No! Everybody come here (pounds counter), I check id first!"

The store owner steadfastly denied selling to minors.

9NNAM: "You want us to come back, bring you video of all the children you've sold to?" 

Store Owner: "No. No, sir! No children, no sale.Get out here! (gestures) That's my store!"

9News Now has since learned that DC's alcoholic beverage board cited this business in 2010 and fined the owner $500. Not for selling to minors, but for selling four-packs of beer when the store has an agreement to sell only 6-packs or larger quantities.

By the way, we've been struck by how many of the underage buyers here drove cars with bumper stickers representing a wide variety of public and private high schools in our area-most in DC and Montgomery County.

Thursday night at 11 p.m., 9News Now will show you what can happen when underage kids get alcohol, drugs and access to a home that is not supervised by parents.

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