Tuscaloosa City Council Denies Proposal for GoPuff to Deliver Alcohol
The Tuscaloosa City Council struck down the alcohol sale and delivery license application for local warehouse delivery service GoPuff.
GoPuff is a service similar to Grubhub, DoorDash and other app-based delivery programs that deliver items from restaurants, retail and grocery stores through third party drivers. GoPuff operates as more of a general convenience store and features household items, snacks and groceries.
The company operates in 650 U.S. cities, and purchases items to store in its own facilities. This guarantees that any items its customers order are things they already have in stock.
The facility applying for the license is located at 3127 Stillman Boulevard. At this time, there's no public access to the warehouse, so the only way to order is through delivery.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed S.B 126 into law earlier this April, which would allow licensed businesses to deliver alcoholic beverages to customers' homes including beer, wine and liquor. As it exists right now, this bill is the only way GoPuff can serve alcohol to its customers.
The application was set to be voted on Tuesday at the council's regular meeting but the Tuscaloosa store's managers, who operate out of Mobile, did not appear in person. Mayor Walt Maddox suggested tabling the vote to next week's meeting.
However, District 1 Councilman Matthew Wilson insisted that the vote push through that night, citing that the GoPuff was informed of the council's agenda.
"I am for anyone who wants to do a business, but there's a lot of money coming from the public and the private sector within our district," Wilson said. "Listening to those citizens... I'm just concerned that it will make it harder to revitalize what we're trying to do in that area."
"It seems to be you can't get nothing but alcohol in our neighborhood. Our children can walk to any place in our neighborhood and get something to drink. They don't have to order it," said Eva MacMath, a longtime resident in Tuscaloosa's West End. "I am all for free enterprise... But we have children. And we want our children to know that our neighborhood is more than just a stomping ground for alcohol."
According to the ABC board, GoPuff drivers would have to go through a rigorous process to be able to deliver the beverages including ID training and delivery certification raining before applying for a delivery license. Deliveries would only be completed once the purchasers who can show valid ID.
"I just don't see the need. And I hate that people think that the west side of town is just a dumping ground for alcohol, cell phones, wig stores," MacMath said. "I guess that's all we're worth until it's time to vote again, and then we see everybody."
Maddox echoed that sentiment, saying that he wants to look into putting spacing requirements in place for alcohol sales within the city. Should GoPuff's license have passed Tuesday, they would not fall under that yet-to-be-introduced regulation.
The council rejected the tabling motion, and voted nearly unanimously to shoot down the application. District 5 Councilman and Council President Kip Tyner was the only one to vote "yes."