Detroit liquor store owner concerned customers still rely on them for lottery

The owner of a neighborhood party store in Detroit is hoping for some clarification about whether the lottery is still deemed essential during the coronavirus emergency.

“It's not essential. Lottery is not,” Michael Yaldo believes – but yet his store has still been deemed essential to stay open during Gov. Whitmer’s stay-home order, which means dozens of people are still taking advantage and lining up outside his doors each day to play the lottery.

In fact, we met up with two customers in the parking lot Friday who tell us they’ll keep playing as long as they’re allowed to.

“We have two machines and they're busy 24/7,” Yaldo tells us.

But not everyone who comes to a corner store like Yaldo’s is looking to play the lottery.  

In fact, many community members want stores like these to remain open because much of Detroit is considered a food desert.

“We have to go far to get juice, probably all the way up on Mack. That’s a long way for people who don’t have cars,” Pete Shaw, who lives in the area, told us.

“I think that would cause a lot of distress in neighborhood if they closed down the liquor stores,” another neighbor Anthony McClendon said.

Meanwhile, Yaldo, who participates in the city’s Project Green Light Program, believes shutting down is the best option right now.

“I don't care if they break in or not; we rather close and go home and save these people’s lives and our lives,” he says.

The state of Michigan released a statement after FOX 2's broadcast deadline. It said:

“Retail locations permitted to be open to the public under the Stay Home, Stay Safe order also may sell lottery tickets. We urge players to take every precaution, follow the Executive Order, and only purchase lottery tickets if already at a store purchasing food, fuel, or other necessary items.  We encourage retailers to consider whether their location is conducive to appropriate social distancing, and we will deactivate the Lottery terminal for any retailer upon request. "

Jeff Holyfield, Director of Public Relations Michigan Lottery