My good friend and fellow whiskey-lover Sam Komlenic, who you've seen here before, has been trying to work with the State Store System. He's begged them for more American whiskey selection, made SLO orders, even made some suggestions, one of which -- restore Old Overholt to the shelves in time for this Pennsylvania brand's 200th anniversary -- they even took.
But now they've pushed him too far, taking one too many brands off the shelf (to make more room for more vodkas?), and he snapped. Sam has officially Given Up. The following is a letter he sent to the PLCB, a declaration of war. (No, I don't know what he's going to do either. Probably something as quixotic as this blog.) Well...unless they were just kidding about taking Rare Breed off the shelf. We'll see.
It's been a while since we've been in touch, but looking over the closeout list tonight, I've got a question I hope you can help me with. The PLCB has finally gotten me really worked up.
Over the last couple of years, the PLCB has been thinning out a good chunk of their bourbon selection without replacing those packages with an equal number of new (and similarly priced) items. We've discussed this before. What this comes down to for me is that we have fewer bourbons to choose from, while interest nationally and internationally has been growing. Tonight I looked at the website and noticed that Wild Turkey Rare Breed is listed as a closeout, but not at a discounted price. I'm hoping that this is a mistake, as WTRB is one of my favorite bottles for the money, and this is at the high end of my price range. You can add $50 bottles all day long and it won't make any difference to me. If indeed it is a closeout, why is it not discounted?
I'm increasingly disappointed at the decreasing American whiskey selection available in PA. I wouldn't be surprised if scotch drinkers, among others, feel the same way. Why are we being shortchanged? Why can't each discontinued package be replaced with one (or more) that might sell? Does EVERY package have to meet universal standards that can't be compromised, even one little bit, even if it means alienating a decent part of your customer base? There are a number of American whiskey distillers that don't have even one bottle available in PA, unless I want to SLO a whole case!
My local premium selection store has been totally rearranged as of late to accommodate even more vodka, a spirit which by law must be tasteless. More tasteless vodkas, and fewer tasty whiskeys. What the heck is going on?? I'm becoming increasingly frustrated with the way things are going, and I'm hoping you can help me out.
I'd way rather have more selection as an ongoing mantra for the PLCB, versus a (questionably awarded) contract to teach the employees to be more polite to their customers (Duh!), or a new marketing image to rebrand stores for which there is no competition. I've been very tolerant, even accepting, of the way the state stores have been run in the last ten years or so, but suddenly things are going to hell. Could Joe Conti, a deposed politician, and a man with no beverage, retail, or customer service experience be the source of my frustration? I honestly am beginning to think that Jonathan Newman was the main reason for my presumed satisfaction in the past, but now he's gone (thanks, Ed!), and partisan politics rule yet again, across the board. And I'm a Democrat, for crying out loud!!!
Bad night online. I'm sorry if I seem really agitated, but I am. You've been a good resource for me in the past, and have been a big help. I don't want to seem like I'm taking this out on you. I'm not. I'm taking it out on your employer. They're clueless, and getting worse by the day. My only regret is that I'm as far away from another state as anyone in PA. Otherwise I'd be doing what everyone else with access must be doing, and probably in increasing numbers, buying my booze where somebody gives a damn about my business and my interests.
I hope the Wild Turkey Rare Breed is a mistake, because if it's not, it's my last straw.
Thanks as always for your time,