At a time of heavy public scrutiny concerning energy beverage companies marketing to impressionable minors, exemplified by today’s proceedings in Washington, some media attention has turned to Casey’s General Store, a mid-sized market franchise in the Midwest.
Casey’s, which has more than 1,750 stores in 14 states, was viewed as an operation that had adapted to changing times following a report from a Kansas City, Mo., television station indicating that Casey’s had enacted a restriction on the sale of energy drinks to minors.
The report snowballed to other parts of the country, as reports so often do in the Internet age.
Only problem: Casey’s wasn’t actually adapting — it was following its own status quo. According to Brian Johnson, Casey’s V.P. of finance, the company has implemented a policy for the past eight to 10 years that prevents minors, unless accompanied by an adult, from buying energy shots or pills, which can be found in the dietary supplement section.
Despite what the initial report said, and what others repeated, energy drinks at Casey’s are still fair game to all ages.
“We feel perfectly comfortable selling energy drinks to anyone that may want to enjoy them, no different than a chocolate milk or a soda pop,” Johnson said.
Johnson said that the store’s policy on energy shots and pills, which isn’t mandated by law, aims to prevent minors from taking five to six energy shots in a short period of time, for example.
“As a responsible retailer and the communities we serve, it just feels like the right thing to do,” Johnson said.
He said that Casey’s doesn’t consider energy drinks to have the same risk because of their size, and that he doesn’t know if the stomach can hold five to six energy drinks in a short period of time. As others have done in the past, Johnson compared energy drinks to coffee.
Despite the aforementioned wave of negative press and public scrutiny focusing on the energy category, Johnson also said that Casey’s management hasn’t considered restricting energy drinks to minors.
“We believe some of those lawsuits and stories on those are kind of misguided,” he said.