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Elkins liquor store sign causes uproar

ELKINS, W.Va. — Some residents who value temperance were displeased recently over a cheeky sign at Liquor Plus/Smoker Friendly.

The sign in question read, “Lips that touch liquor touch other lips quicker.” The phrase that was on the sign is popular on the Internet and may be a play on words of a famous song from the Temperance Movement called “Lips That Touch Liquor Shall Never Touch Mine.” During the Temperance Movement, the song was the teetotalers’ toe-tapper.

Several residents took to Facebook this week to express outrage over the advertisement and left comments on Mayor Van Broughton’s page. On his page, Broughton indicated the “state has been contacted” regarding the matter.

“Some people have no common sense,” Facebook user Ellen Carter opined.

“Ya, that (is) not good to have (on) the main corner of our fine city,” Sandy Mallow posted.

Facebook user Carolyn Higgins had one word to describe the sign: “Disgusting!”

While there were plenty of other comments lambasting the sign, a few took a more moderate approach.

“I do not like it personally, but there is that tricky First Amendment,” wrote Danielle M. Smith. “Kids see worse in alcohol posters of scantily clad women. Unfortunately, sex sells.”

The sign has been up for several weeks, but the indignation didn’t ramp up until late last week and early this week, store manager Cory Payne said.

In response to the outrcy, Broughton visited with Payne to talk about managing the situation. Everyone thought it would be best to change the sign.

“They (store officials) want to be citizen-friendly,” Broughton said. “People didn’t like the way it was worded. They weren’t breaking the law, that I’m aware of, or anything.”

Officials with the Alcohol Beverage Control Administration were not available for comment for this article. However, West Virginia State Code indicates that advertisements are not acceptable when they encourage over-indulgence.

The age of Facebook makes it easier for people to voice their opinions, Broughton said.

“You know how Facebook is; everything gets exaggerated,” he said. “There’s always three or four people trying to stir things up.”

Payne noted no one actually came into the store to complain in-person, but rather preferred to air their grievances online. He appreciated the mayor’s more-direct approach.

“He (Broughton) stopped in the store, and we had a good conversation,” Payne said. “He said he didn’t personally have a problem with it, but he wanted to help manage the situation. And, anyway, as soon as the complaints started to get the attention of corporate, they made sure to have us change the sign so we don’t have any problems in the future.”

No one at the store wants to intentionally offend people, Payne said.

“Obviously, we want to be here to help our customers. We don’t want them to be offended,” he said.

Payne decided to remove any notion of liquor as a facilitator of kissing from the new message, so as not to offend people who don’t go in for that sort of thing.

The sign now reads, “Act single, see double, drink triple.”

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