Drugstore Implements Dress Code for Shoppers

Discussion
Jul 25, 2012

Consider it a loss prevention and safety measure.

An independent pharmacy operator in New York State took the unusual step of posting signs at the entrances of his two stores advising people wearing sunglasses and hats or hoodies to remove them before entering the store. What could be the reason for this unusual signage? A couple of armed robberies in the area were carried out by an individual wearing sunglasses and a head covering.

The number of pharmacy robberies has exploded in recent years as more and more people become addicted to prescription painkillers. Some stores now post signs that they no longer stock the meds on-premises while others are considering the need to hire security guards.

Dan Bosley, who owns Cornerstone Drug and Gifts and Keesville Pharmacy in Rouses Point, NY, said not all customers are happy about being asked by store staff to remove their glasses and hats or hoodies when coming to his stores.

"I am telling my regular customers … who come in with baseball hats and sunglasses on to be prepared to remove them," he told the Press-Republican. "At this point, you don’t have the right to be wearing this stuff in my stores."

Mr. Bosley said he felt compelled to take the step to protect his employees.

"(They) become like family, and a threat against them is a threat to your family," he told the Press-Republican. "It’s really scary. I worry about it every day."

Most locals, however, seem to okay with Mr. Bosley’s shopper dress code.

"I really don’t think it’s a big deal if it’s going to make everybody feel safer, why not?" Maria Canty, a Cornerstone shopper, told WDAF-TV.

Discussion Questions: What do you think of using a customer dress code as a means to deter crime in stores? What other options should pharmacies be looking at to protect employees and customers against the threat of armed robberies?

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19 Comments on "Drugstore Implements Dress Code for Shoppers"


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Adrian Weidmann
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

In light of recent events in Aurora, CO and the robberies cited in the Rouses Point, NY, it is a very reasonable request by the store owner. In short, this simple request can keep everyone safer and can be a very effective deterrent. I applaud Mr. Bosley for taking a simple, effective and bold step to protect not only his employees, but his customers. The only people that should be bothered by this are the perpetrators.

Steve Montgomery
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

The removal of items that can help hide a robber’s identity could increase the likelihood that the thief would be identified. For a rational person this would act as a deterrent (at least to some degree). The issue is that, unfortunately, many of those individuals who are desperate enough to resort stealing drugs to feed an addiction are not likely to be acting rationally.

What is likely to happen is that this policy will encourage the “rational” robber to move to another pharmacy to rob, and the irrational robber won’t care. For the latter the need for the drugs outweighs the threat of being caught.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

This policy might be effective in smaller communities where everyone still knows everyone, and the big guns like CVS and Walgreens are not the places of choice. Is this going to work in a downtown “big city”? I doubt it. But it sure is worth a try.

Dan Raftery
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

This is a very serious problem for c-stores too. Two weeks ago, two doors from my office in this sleepy burb, a c-store robbery attempt ended in a high-speed chase, killing one alleged perp and hospitalizing the others. Authorities think they may have been doing this in two states for months.

Bosley’s solution may work for a local neighborhood store, but it is not feasible more broadly. Heck, if I took off my prescription sunglasses in my local Walgreens, I’d cause some major damage knocking over things.

The only way I see to reverse the store robbery trend is to increase penalties. Several associations are working to bring this problem to the right level of attention. It’s a tough one.

Joel Rubinson
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

I like it. So what if they lose a few customers who refuse to remove sunglasses and hoods? I mean, if a store was ever going to fire certain customers (as Peppers and Rodgers suggest), those would be good ones to start with.

John Franco
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

I live/work in urban areas, and it is common to see signs like this posted in retail shops. It is also standard practice for this to be posted in banks around here.

This won’t deter someone who is planning to run in, grab something and run out, nor will it deter someone from running in with a gun and holding the place up. But it might give employees a couple seconds’ warning to see someone so flagrantly breaking the rules.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

I personally will feel a lot safer when elderly women wearing those super-dark oversized sunglasses have to remove them in the store. Same goes for babies in sunhats. One size does fit all!

Mel Kleiman
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

If the employees feel safer, the customers will feel safer. When you ask what else can be done, I think anything else you add to the list has already been done.

This program may actually attract customers rather than turn them away.

Tony Orlando
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

This independent drug store can do whatever he thinks is proper to prevent future robberies. CVS and Walgreens couldn’t implement this without a team of lawyers screaming lawsuit for discrimination. It is a very tough environment out there for drug stores being robbed, and this is a way that may deter future crimes.

Robert DiPietro
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

A dress code for shoppers isn’t going to be accepted by customers. What’s next? How about if it’s winter and I have a hat on, I now have to remove it to shop in your store? Really?

Tim Henderson
Guest
Tim Henderson
9 years 9 months ago
A no hats, no sunglasses, no hoodies dress code would be near useless, if it were the only robbery deterrent implemented by a store. It does, however, become a viable tool if it’s launched as another deterrent at stores with multiple deterrents, including security cameras, guards and other signage. My local bank and several local c-stores all have similar signage asking customers to remove hats, sunglasses, etc. I have no problem complying. There is a subtext to this story that aligns with other retail stories we’ve seen, such as retailers asking shoppers to refrain from chatting on their mobiles during checkout and yesterday’s discussion item about research on various types of customer service saboteurs. Specifically, merchants are venturing into what has largely been unexplored terrain by asking their customers to behave in a way that conforms to widely accepted social norms, ensures all customers are afforded quality customer service and a quality shopping experience, and/or maintains the safety of store staff, shoppers and products. It’ll be interesting to see how such policies and practices play… Read more »
Marcia Hubert
Guest
Marcia Hubert
9 years 9 months ago

I work in the banking industry and this is a policy that has been implemented for 4 years or so. If nothing else, it calls attention to anyone who refuses to comply with the request, which is NOT what a would-be thief wants. So it can be a deterrent — why would someone risk entering this man’s store with ill-intent if he/she would stand our more than at a different pharmacy down the street? I think it is the responsible step to be taken.

Unfortunately, in today’s society, we need to take extra precautions anywhere possible to promote safety.

Larry Negrich
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

This is really an identification code, not a dress code. It requires the shopper to be identifiable. This mild deterrent may be just enough to have the potential criminal look for other targets without such security measures in place.

Ed Dunn
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

Technology-wise, there are “smart cameras” being developed that can detect if someone entered the store wearing a baseball cap, sunglasses or a hood or fail the simple “facial recognition” test.

If any of these conditions occur, higher-definition cameras kick in for better quality recording. Nothing is more annoying than grainy black and white surveillance video after the fact.

Doug Fleener
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

I applaude Mr. Bosley for taking the appropriate actions to protect his employees and customers. I also like the fact that he’s asking everyone including his regular customers. This removes the possibility of racial profiling.

Dennis Serbu
Guest
Dennis Serbu
9 years 9 months ago

For the customer who just left the eye doctor and had her eyes dilated and is stopping at the pharmacy for a prescription or the cancer patient who lost all of their hair in chemo, this won’t work very well. That said, any criminal seeing a sign on the front door prohibiting sunglasses will certainly run the other way. Sounds like the Mayor Bloomberg theory of crime prevention and health advocacy.

Warren Thayer
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

Got to say I’m a little surprised, and very pleased, to see the support this concept is getting from people on the site today. I’d expected a fair amount of hysteria. This policy has been routine in banks for years up here in sleepy Vermont, where some of the bad guys think that knocking off a small town bank is easy. Well, it usually is. But I’m told the policy helps. In addition, some of the bad guys don’t know that in Vermont, it’s legal to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

This will perhaps help make people feel safer until a fight breaks out BECAUSE someone doesn’t comply with the request (perhaps with gunfire, since impolite people can readily carry concealed weapons without a permit…in New York, Vermont or anywhere else).

Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
9 years 9 months ago

A couple of thoughts here. 1) You indicated that the pharmacy was independent and 2) The number of pharmacy robberies has exploded. Now let’s see, if an independent businessman chooses to try and protect his business by instituting a dress code he is what, discriminating? OK, you go and put your behind on the line and stand behind a pharmacy counter in an area where robberies are frequent, and then you make the determination of how to protect yourself. Where I grew up there was a grocer who had an enclosed perch over the store office in which a security guard with a shotgun sat.

Glasses, hats and hoodies mask criminals’ identities from surveillance cameras and asking customers to uncover themselves seems to be very reasonable to me!

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