In 1991, after Bowman’s Market had been cited several times for selling beer and cigarettes to minors, the owner took a drastic move.
Richard Bowman decided his grocery stores would no longer sell alcohol or tobacco products — even though industry experts said it would ruin the business.
It’s a policy that Bowman’s children and grandchildren — who now own and operate the 98-year-old Kaysville store — have continued to honor. (Bowman’s Farmington store closed several years ago.)
“Deciding not to sell some of the most profitable items,” said store manager David Cook, Bowman’s grandson, “is not a good business decision from a dollar standpoint.”
But it has endeared Bowman’s Market to many in this conservative Davis County community, where most residents are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which teaches its members to abstain from alcohol.
The family has never considered changing Richard Bowman’s initial decision, Cook said. “It’s part of our identity.”
It’s also something the family wants to celebrate.
On May 1, Bowman’s Market will commemorate its 30-year beer-free milestone with an outdoor party for customers that includes food trucks, games, prizes, and the free doughnuts for which the family-owned market is known.
The party takes place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the store, 326 S. Main, Kaysville.
At noon, Davis County leaders will kick off a larger underage drinking prevention campaign that includes Bowman’s and seven other grocery stores from Bountiful to Clearfield. Signs will be placed throughout each of the stores encouraging customers to have more family meals with their children.
Studies have shown that children who sit down to meals at least five to seven times a week with their parents are less likely to consume alcohol and drugs.
Joining Bowmans in the alcohol-free campaign are Dick’s Market in Bountiful and Centerville (which also do not sell alcohol or tobacco); Fresh Market and J&A Bakery in Layton; and Kent’s Market, Winegar’s and La Favorita, in Clearfield.
In addition to the signage, every doughnut box at Bowman’s will get a sticker that reads, “Doughnut You Know — parents are the number one reason kids don’t drink?”
The campaign is sponsored by ParentsEmpowered, the alcohol prevention program operated through the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and paid for with funds from liquor sales.
A statewide report from 2019 shows that underage drinking has been declining for more than a decade. Now vaping and marijuana top the list of teenage temptations.
Richard Bowman decided to eliminate beer and tobacco sales when those numbers were higher and after talking to health and safety experts.
“He was a religious man and didn’t believe in alcohol and tobacco in the first place,” Cook said. “His name was on the building, and he wanted to make sure it was a family place.”
Persistent teenagers, of course, could go to other places to buy beer, said Cook, “but he wanted to send a message.... that Bowmans was not a place for that.”
And for three decades — and counting — that’s been the case.