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An off licence is a shop that primarily sells alcoholic drinks to be consumed off the premises. Typically, you can also purchase smoking products and confectionary at such an establishment. They make an alternative to pubs by allowing you to take the alcohol home and charging less for it. You may find you can buy a bottle of a given brand of beer for half the pub price in an offy.

Off licences are not as useful as they used to be because large supermarkets now tend to stay open longer and can afford to sell booze for even less. They also tend to have a larger selection than many off licenes.

You can often spot an offy by the group of underage drinkers hanging around in front of it.

In the UK and also in Ireland, off-licenses are required by law to close earlier than pubs. At the moment, i believe the closing time is still 10 PM and slightly earlier on a Sunday.

Certainly in England and Wales the law states that an off license is for the retail sale of intoxicating liquor for comsumption away from the premises (that is, you cannot drink it within the shop or right outside the door).

Working in an off-licence is all kinds of fun.

As an employee of an off-licence you will not only experience the joys of dealing with the general public but also the joys of dealing with low-life of all forms.

An off-licensed premises may not permit the consumption of alcohol inside of the shop or in the nearby vicinity. This means that on an average Friday night at least one valued customer will enter your premises and either pretend that your request that they leave and return later without their tasty alcoholic beverage was not heard, or serenade you with such classics as, “You’re a prick, you”, “Bell-end!” or the perennial favourite, “Fucking cunt!”.

Every off-licence employee will also eventually develop a good rapport with the local youths who provide a variety of entertainment for free and gratis. These youths can be spotted from a mile away by their jesters’ uniforms, typically consisting of sport labels such as Nike, Adidas, Vicky Pollard favourite, Kappa or in the case of the true hardcore, black hoodies and red baseball caps.. These delightful young adults specialise in attempting to purchase alcohol and tobacco products without any valid form of identification. Upon failing to do so they will loiter nearby and harass your customers, requesting assistance in purchasing alcohol (literally, “Oi, buy us some alcohol, mate”) and offering those that refuse such polite incentives as, “I’ll kick your fucking head in” and, “I’ll burn your eight year old daughter’s face”.

It is illegal to peddle your fine wines and refreshing white ciders to those that are already inebriated or otherwise impaired by their consumption of other less than legal substances. This group of jolly individuals will ask you, “Do you think that you’re clever or something?”, insist that you are winding them up for a television programme or generously offer to remove your windows by way of foot. It is also illegal to serve the more sober companion of a drunk and your model response to their cries of, “But I ain’t doing nobody no harm!” should be, “Apart from damaging your friend’s health a little more and requesting that I risk a hefty fine that I can ill afford to pay”.

Your alcoholics however are a whole new ball-game. As somebody that works in an off-licence, you are their friend – assuming that they are a regular customer they will not harm you nor even go as far as threatening you even if you refuse them service on occasion as you are their usual route to the acquisition of their daily quota of alcohol. This makes them a menace due to their almost insatiable desire to talk to you – about how their bicycle has been stolen, about how they had a banjo until they became homeless, about their recent surgery to remove a hernia and about the merits of satellite television versus Freeview. These are individuals that are to be pitied, but will drive you insane by showing you photos of their children that are currently in the custody of their divorced husband and propositioning you because you really understand them.

But perhaps I am being a little unfair - for every unpleasant customer there will be at least one (oh, alright, twenty) other customers that do not force you to contemplate a life of alcoholism for yourself. Occasionally, youths will attempt to buy alcohol and/or cigarettes without identification and then apologise profusely for inconveniencing you by wasting your valuable time. You will even encounter the occasional responsible piss-artist whom, when refused service, will explain “I know, I’m trolleyed” and stagger off into the distance bearing a smile on their face and beer stains on their shirt.

And then I snap back to reality.

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