29 January 2010

Red dot, dot, dot....

Red Dot Store, Hampton, S.C.

Sometimes I forget that every state doesn't use Red Dots to identify liquor stores. It's one of those quirky and colorful South Carolina things that I love so much and this is the best explanation I could find:
Why is there a red dot on South Carolina liquor stores?
It is believed to have its origin in the South Carolina Constitution of 1895, article 8, section 11, which prohibited alcohol sales between sundown and sun-up. The red ball designates the sun and identifies the store as one that sells alcohol. The State newspaper, 10/03/1984, gave the following theory:

In the 1940s, the state was forcing liquor stores to shrink their signs dramatically, so as not to advertise alcohol too blatantly. Stores were allowed to use lettering only a few inches high on doors or windows. A Charleston liquor store "highlighted" the tiny lettering with a dramatic red dot, and everyone else followed suit.

Bonus joke courtesy of Phil's Phun.

A man ran through a crowded train looking very agitated, calling out, "Is there a Catholic priest on board?"

When he got no reply, he ran back up the train shouting, "Is there an Anglican priest on board?"

Still no reply.

By now becoming more desperate, he ran down the train shouting, "Is there a Rabbi on board?"

Eventually, a gentleman stood up and said, "Can I be of any assistance, my friend? I'm a Methodist minister."

The man looked at him and said,

"No, you're no bloody good. I need a corkscrew!"


  1. After 9/11 a friend had his corkscrew confiscated from his carry-on by TSA. He said, "How do they expect an Episcopalian to enjoy his vacation if you take away his corkscrew".

  2. Saw a great pic of you and Sean Brock on Charlie!

  3. Very interesting. I'd never heard of the red dots before. Thanks.

  4. Very funny! And the historic (hysteric) commentary on red dots was rather funny, too. At first I thought it was a typical "red dot" sale that so many stores put on frequently.

  5. I am Virginia transplant to South Carolina (over 10 years ago!) and ALWAYS wondered where the red dots came from. We called them ABC stores in VA... I've always heard of them referred to as Red Dot Stores here. I knew what they sold, but not the story behind it! Thanks. Awesome shot as well. Do you teach any photography classes?

  6. Mike - Cute!

    Caroline - Thanks for the tip! I hadn't seen it.

    Linda, Jacob - I learn things myself when I google around to post a picture.

    de - Thanks. No, I am not a photographer instructor - still a learner.

  7. In the early 1960s you could see stores that had the dots all over them. I used to get excited and cry, "Look, another polka dot store!"

    I always figured, once I got older, making the stores stand out was intended to depress customer count.

  8. Namrata8:09 AM

    Commercial signs have come a long way away from the 19th century to the present.Till the last century most of these shops had the simple words "wine shop" or "wine store" or at the most the name of a popular brand.But these days the number of brands are plenty and so too are the signboards.The ones which have caught my attention are (1)Bacchus (those who haven't heard about the Greek deity of wine,presume it's after the name Bacchu; a common petname in India). (2)Dipsomaniax (in typical 21st century style,the last alphabet x has been used as a shortcut to do away with "cs". (3)The Holy Nexus---Beer,Wine & Liquor" (4)Stagger-Inn. The first three are in various areas of Guwahati.The 4th one is in Khanapara and you shouldn't miss it during your next trip to Shillong,because it's on the G.S Road Highway.

  9. Anonymous10:33 PM

    Look up....Cade Alford “Doc” Wamsley.... If you want to know where Red Dot Stores got started.

  10. Anonymous5:24 PM

    I'd heard a nasty rumor that the red dot helps those who are illiterate find booze.


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