(HELENA) A Helena convenience store is being honored for its efforts to keep alcohol and tobacco products out of the hands of minors.
Helena Town Pump #3, at the intersection of Sanders Street and Custer Avenue, received the company’s Unstung Hero award. Four times a year, Town Pump recognizes one of its locations that hasn’t been caught selling to underage customers during a law enforcement sting.
“We’re the first line of defense when it comes to making sure that we’re selling to people who are old enough to buy tobacco and alcohol products, so my staff and I are very committed to making sure that we’re doing that every single day that we come to work,” said Crystal Collins, the store’s general manager.
Mary Staigmiller, a district manager for Town Pump, said in the years the Sanders store has been open, it’s never failed a compliance check.
Company leaders presented the store with a check. 17 employees each received a $50 gift card.
“This is the best part of my job,” said Pete Barthelmess, Town Pump’s director for loss prevention. “I love coming out and being able to give money to employees for doing the right thing.”
The state of Montana requires anyone working at a business that sells alcohol to go through training on responsible service every three years. Barthelmess said Town Pump retrains its employees every year, and that the company has designed its own training program.
“We’ve emphasized the things we think are right,” he said.
Collins said her employees are trained to not only check identification whenever someone buys alcohol or tobacco, but also look out for “second-party sales” – when someone else purchases items for underage people.
“It’s our job to make sure that every single day we are carding anybody who’s purchasing alcohol and tobacco products, so we can keep the community safe,” she said. “That’s our job, and that’s our responsibility to our community.”