Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pennsylvania Liquor (should be in) Control Board!

Pennsylvania has one of the weirdest state liquor laws. Growing up I always heard the grumbling that we should not have the state running these stores. For many years, I agreed. Why did our state government run these stores instead of privatizing them?!  Open it up to the free market; privatize it! That was always the sentiment and I felt the same way. However, my views have changed.

I think the biggest complaint because it was state-run was the hours that they were open. At least through my adult life though, they have changed. Many of these stores are now open later and some are even open on Sundays. Sure all holidays they are closed, but if you anticipate your needs you can work around it. The people running out to get alcohol on holidays are the ones that are already ripped and have run out. Seriously, they shouldn’t be on the road anyway, right?

The other complaint was that you cannot purchase beer or wine in a grocery store. That too is changing. Several stores are now offering 6 packs to go in their stores. I can go to Wegmans and pick up a wide variety of beers there. I am cool with that. I am not a wine drinker so I do not really care if they offer them in stores. However, I think they are experimenting with that as well. I believe the PLCB is working on putting vending machines in stores. These machines will automatically check your ID and match it to your face, and then it will dispense it. Pretty cool!

Most state stores have a larger variety of products than other liquor stores in other states. That was evident the last time I went to South Carolina. I had to go to a couple of stores until I found the bottle I wanted. The Premium stores offer even more hard to find items as well.  

The one thing that I like about the state is that it does have good buying power. I went to the store this holiday weekend and Jack Daniels was discounted $6. You wouldn’t get sales like that in a private market especially on a holiday weekend. These state stores are designed to sell in quantity. Smaller private stores would be geared more towards selling for higher profits.

I have changed my opinion in privatizing our state stores. Let the state keep them and run them. By the way, keep in mind that whatever profit is generated goes back to the state. We would lose that income as well. Sure we may have a short term gaining in licensing and sales to the private market, but in the long run I think we would lose out.    

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