Village Green Liquor Legends bottle shop licensee Mark Knott, left and hotel owner Charlie Nalder, right, have plans in place to help the business survive the coronavirus pandemic.
Village Green Liquor Legends bottle shop licensee Mark Knott, left and hotel owner Charlie Nalder, right, have plans in place to help the business survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Bottle shop slams foolish social media prank

AN April fools prank that claimed bottle shops would shut from midnight fell flatter than a glass of beer left overnight.

Licensee at the Village Green Hotel's Liquorland bottle shop Mark Knott was furious when he opened an email from a liquor group on Wednesday morning, to be greeted with the message, "you've been pranked".

As one of the few arms of the hospitality industry remaining still open after a raft of shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said it was totally irresponsible to joke about what was happening.

"We're watching what the government's doing all the time," he said. "We think they actually could close us down at any moment."

On Wednesday hotel managers held phone hook-ups as the ramifications of the prank hit home.

Business owner Charlie Nalder said the joke actually promoted panic buying, which was not the message industry and government have promoted.

"A joke that basically panicked our customers into a frenzy wasn't funny."

Staff at the bottle shop said they and other stores had been inundated with calls from customers desperate to place orders.

Mr Knott said it distracted people from a number of responsible measures the Village Green had taken to keep the business open.

To minimise the amount of contact between staff and customers, it has begun a click-and-collect service where customers order and pay for their booze on the internet and drive to the shop to pick it up.

He said the customers drove in, flashed ID and staff placed their order into the boot of their car, without any contact.

He said the bottle shop also had a limited home delivery service, operating within a 4km radius of the shop, which operated in a similar fashion.

"We just have to sight the person who made the order and their ID, to make sure they're over 18 and the person who made the order. We just drop off the order on their doorstop."

Mr Knott said the if there were any anomalies with the order, staff would keep the alcohol and bring it back to the shop, where the customer could pick it up.

"We still charge them $10 for the home delivery, because we've had staff make the delivery," he said.

"They have to come in and show us ID before than can pick it up."

He said the bottle shop's drive through continued to operate with some changes, including a contactless payment system.

"We've done a few things, like close one lane, to discourage people from parking and getting out to shop," he said.

"And after the changes yesterday, we've even had police come in to check there's not more than two people together in a car.

"It's all right if they're from the same family or house, but if not, they're breaking the rules."

Mr Nalder said there was good news for patrons of the Village Green bistro with plans to begin a home delivery service in the pipeline.

"We've brought in the insulated delivery bags and we're working with kitchen staff on the procedures we have to put in place," he said.

"We're hoping it could happen as soon as next week."

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