North Iowa theatre institutes 'no bags and backpacks' policy

While some exceptions such as purses and diaper bags will be made, policy was established to cut down on trash left behind, as well as boosting concessions sales

Posted: Jun 28, 2019 1:00 AM
Updated: Jun 28, 2019 6:28 AM

OSAGE, Iowa - You may have done it before: sneaking in food or drinks into a movie theatre. The operators of one North Iowa theatre say they've seen some customers take it too far, and they're trying to curb that.

The Watts Theatre has recently instituted a 'no bag and backpack' policy, and so far, it's been receiving positive feedback from moviegoers.

Leanna and Bruce Troge are theatre regulars.

"It's reasonably priced, doesn't have a lot of people, it's not really crowded."

And they really appreciate the cheaper prices their local theatre has.

"You go somewhere else and you pay $50 for a meal and a movie sometimes."

While they personally haven't noticed too many cases of people bringing in outside snacks, they're OK with the policy.

"We all have reasonable prices here. They're not so outrageous. I think it's cheap."

Owner Mark Walk says people bringing in outside food hurts business; about 42% of the theatre's revenue comes from concessions.

"If people are carrying in their own food, we just can't stay open. If you don't have concessions sales, a theatre just can't stay open."

While there has always been a 'no outside food and drink' policy, there have been some exceptions made such as those with food allergies. However, recent incidents have seen a lot of trash left behind has also prompted the change.

"They brought in food from Subway, their chocolate milk from Subway. They spilled their chocolate milk in the back row, which ran all the way down to the front. Then when they left, they left their Subway wrappers, they left their milk container, they left crumbs all over the place. And that was it."

However, for those with babies or have food allergies, Walk says exceptions can be made. He just wants customers to be reasonable, and to let staff know.

"We're not going to check their bags. We expect people to be reasonable with us, and we'll be reasonable with them."

Purses and diaper bags, as long as they're not full of food, will still be allowed. If there is an absolute need to bring a bag or backpack in, such as for medical reasons, Walk asks patrons to let staff know.

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