A View from Here

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Walmart’s beer boat sends the wrong message

The display in the Walmart store in Orange Park, Fla., turned more than a few heads, but is a pontoon boat made out of cases of beer with kegs for floats really the kind of message the retail discount giant wants to be promoting?

That’s the question Rusty Gardner asked when he came across the beer boat earlier this week.

“We’re not trying to be prudes or anything,” says Gardner, 50, of Jacksonville, Fla., an avid boater and a member of the national staff of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. “But we feel it glamorizes boating and drinking.”

The display gets high marks for creativity, concedes the safety advocate, who suspects a beer vendor and not Walmart built the boat. “The pontoons are kegs,” says Gardner, who promotes Sunshine State boating through his website www.floridabywater.com. And he says the people he’s talked with regarding the beer pontoon have mixed emotions about whether or not it’s in poor taste.

“People say, well, you can drink and boat. But the thing is, they’re making such a strong association between drinking and boating,” says Gardner, the director of digital media productions at Florida State College at Jacksonville. “It’s like putting out a prom limo made out of beer cans.”

While many of us enjoy a cold beer on the water on a hot day, prudence needs to be the standard. We all know the stats. Boating and excessive drinking too often is a fatal combination. Alcohol is involved in about a third of all recreational boating deaths.

Gardner went back to the store a day later and asked a floor manager if she would at least put a life jacket on the boat. “I knew they wouldn’t take it down,” he says. The manager said she’d look into it. “They didn’t seem overly concerned.”

Gardner wasn’t feeling too optimistic when he visited the store a day or so later, but voila, as you can see in the photo, the store had fitted the beer pontoon with a lone life jacket.

Life is made up of small victories.


9 comments on “Walmart’s beer boat sends the wrong message

  1. john ennis

    This company totaly lacks anything close to class or common sense.. and it comes the same week they fired a 22 year long employee because she accidently grabbed a customers sweater when she was falling. A true scumbag operation

  2. John Page Williams

    ONE life jacket for a pontoon boat made of beer? In a heavy-duty boating state like Florida? Not much sense of corporate social responsibilit–or people sense–anywhere in that store!

  3. Smitty

    Good gravy, has it come to this? Is there nothing that won’t offend someone? Thank God they didn’t make a baby carriage out that stuff. The implications would be horrendous.

  4. Dave Wall - DSO-PE D7

    Simple answer to this situation. Go to Wal-Mart and offer the manager a free Safe Boating Class and then offer a discount to all his employees. Lets educate these folks in the Law and the “Rules of the Road”. They are too big to ignore and perhaps something good will come from it.

  5. jim davies

    Isn’t wonderful that we live in a country that everyone can express their politically correct opinions!!!A beer boat really —-that pisses you off? — not the self serving poiiticians we now have???
    Get a frickn life.

  6. captjeff

    @Smitty, no one is offended, just concerned for getting the right message across. they could have done this much differently and still included a few cases of beer.

    agree with Dave, education is a good start to cure this type of ignorance. Esp the safe boating class highlights the effects of careless alcohol use on the water.

  7. C Moore

    Was it in the Sporting goods department or the grocery area?
    If they were going to be insensitive they could have made it a Duck blind with shotguns & ammo & beef jerky-
    Oh that’s coming this fall, didn’t mean to let that out….
    So all those that think this is bad – you don’t go to NASCAR Races I take?
    See Budwiser, Miller & Coors sponsor RACE TEAMS- So are they promoting drinking and driving/racing??
    Where is the outrage over the Redneck Yacht Club song- you know the one where the Comadore has his first beer at 9:00am….

  8. goboatinginflorida

    OrangePark Florida itself is a bastion of faux conservative ideology.

    In 2010 Florida lead the nation in Boating Deaths

  9. Pingback: ODU Fishing News » Walmart’s beer boat sends the wrong message

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