The majority of Hawai‘i teens report having friends who drink without their parents' knowledge.
Posted on August 22, 2011
Have you ever noticed how many alcohol advertisements you see on your way home? How might life be different without them and what would it take to bring them all down?
You can't say it has never been done – in Hawaii.
Standing up to the alcohol industry is no small task, but a group of young people partnered with Kauai County's Anti-Drug Office and Kujo's Mini Mart to complete the first store makeover in Hawaii. A store makeover is an environmental prevention strategy that transforms a retail outlet promoting alcohol into a space that does not support a norm of alcohol use. At Kujo's Mini Mart, students repainted the store and replaced alcohol posters and other signage with family photos. What was once considered by many to be a liquor store is now more family friendly. While Kujo's continues to sell alcohol, youth who pass by or enter the store are no longer exposed to pro-use messages.
So, what would it take to makeover your local corner store?
Identify the problem. Take a moment to count the number of alcohol advertisements near your home or child's school, and the number may surprise you. According to one study on outdoor alcohol ads, more ads mean more favorable views of alcohol among youth as well as a desire to drink more. Still, advertising might not be the problem in your neighborhood. Ask your friends, family and neighbors what they think. You won't know until you start looking!
Set a realistic goal. Did you know that substantial change in tobacco prevention took 20 years? Now tobacco is locked behind the register at most convenience stores and smoking is banned in all public places and within 20 feet of all windows and doors. "A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step," right? We call it low-hanging fruit. Achieve success on seemingly small things, and you're on the road to tackle the larger and more stubborn.
Approach a store (or more than one). A store owner's buy-in determines whether the project will move forward or not. When approaching store owners, remember that in many cases their business is their livelihood. Share the community's perspective of the problem, educate the store owner(s) on the effects of alcohol advertisements and help the store owner see how they can be a part of the solution. Be prepared to address their concerns, and highlight how they will benefit from a store makeover.
Suggest a change or two. Four "P"s are involved in the marketing of alcohol: product, promotion, place and price. Each also presents an opportunity for positive change. Product refers to the types of alcohol sold; therefore, a makeover might mean a store no longer sells Alcopops which are known to target young people. The removal of alcohol posters and other signage at Kujo's is an example of countering alcohol promotion. Encourage ideas from store owners to promote buy-in and ownership. The possibilities are endless – get creative!
Involve the community. In an effort to promote healthier food options, organizers of a store makeover in California found that "involving the community in the makeover process helped to ensure support of the store's healthy changes […]." The alcohol industry may have a lot of money, but it cannot beat community support for a store who responds to the needs of the community it serves. Community members have good ideas and personal connections too, so be resourceful and involve them!
Celebrate success. Even if a store owner is not willing for a complete makeover, always celebrate success no matter how small or large. Host a re-opening event, invite the mayor (and other public figures) and engage the press to cover your story! There's no shame in promoting something that benefits everyone in a community.
Do you have a store in mind? Share your ideas at the Be A Jerk Facebook page.
Sources: 1) "Team Kujo's tackles store makeover," County of Kauai; 2) "From vision to reality at Kujo's," The Garden Isle; 3) "Students make over Kujo's to curb island's alcohol issues," The Garden Isle; 4) "Kalaheo residents take back their community," KHON2 News; 5) "Outdoor alcohol ads boost kids' urge to drink," ScienceDaily; 6) CMCA: Communities Mobilizing for Change on Alcohol Latino Market Store Makeover: A Youth-led Effort to Green an Urban Food Desert.
*Mahalo to Cheryl Labuguen with EWAlution 96706 for her review and feedback on this article!