Thursday, September 30, 2010

Poor bride...

Here's a story of just how handy and cooperative the State Store System is. A bride spends hours planning her wedding wine list: variety, quality, reasonable price. She takes it to the PLCB store, which, the agency tells us, has a better selection than the big stores in NJ and Delaware...and yet, they don't have the wines, and most of them would take weeks to order. ARGH! She has to re-do the entire list, even though she could get most of the wines at her local New Jersey.

Real world story, from someone with no axe to grind. Poor Pennsylvania. Poor us.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What the Winos are thinking

I have to assume this thread on reflects what the wine-lovers are thinking. They don't like the PLCB, and who can blame them?

By the way, Keith Wallace is right: the two candidates for PA governor have different stands on the PLCB. Tom Corbett is not against reform of the PLCB and The State Store System; Dan "I Balanced Pittsburgh's Budget On The Backs of Drinkers" Onorato is dead-set against it. I do not encourage anyone to be a single-issue voter, least of all on this one; but if you need to make up your mind, factor it in, eh?

Apologies: I posted this over at the Session Beer Project blog first by mistake!

Nice summation

Take a look at this "Liquor Privatization Roundup" from John Geeting at his Lehigh Valley Independent blog. The payoff is key: "Restricting the PLCB's mission solely to public health regulation is the best option for the largest number of consumers, while the current system is only good for a handful of public liquor store employees and rent-seeking liquor license holders."

Other people are thinking and writing about this a lot more. Keep it going. I'll try to do keep it going.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Now! At the PLCB! Every Bottle is On Sale! FOR MORE!

That's right, Pennsylvanians: not only do you have to buy your booze here in Pennsylvania at the State Store System (under penalty of law), you're now going to have to pay more for it, across the board. As of January 4, every bottle -- wine, liquor, liqueur, wine cooler, and whatever Rock & Rye is -- will be going up in price by 50¢ to $2 (depending on size). What's the reason? Is it a new database for beer registration? More courtesy training? RFID tags so they can track down and kill underage drinkers? (Just kidding; they wouldn't really kill them.)

It's not a tax. (Really, Chairman PJ Stapleton said so, so, well, there you are.)'s handling fees. The PLCB tells us that this is the first time in 17 years they've raised the price because of this. My response: how would we know? How would we know? The PLCB takes all its costs out of the price of booze (and licensing and fines and so on), but although the annual report says how much gets spent, it doesn't really give details. So how do we know whether they've added in these costs before or not?

And honestly, why the hell wouldn't they? Joe "CEO" Conti keeps saying they're running it like a business; what business doesn't adjust prices for costs? And now he's saying they're going to adjust for costs every year, "We're going to look at these every July and hopefully though it will be a penny or two next July instead of the increase that we had to do this year to make up for 17 years,"he said to KDKA reporter Marty Griffin. And what business ups their prices by a penny a year? Come on, "CEO" Joe!

It's not just you that's going to pay, either: restaurants and bars will pay more too, and by the time it gets through to you, you're looking at $3-5 more for a bottle of wine, right? For handling. Am I alone in thinking that this would be a good time to tell them to get their damned hands off the booze?

Sure, private liquor stores raise their prices. But you know...when they do, you have a choice. You can shop around. You aren't required to shop in one store by law, and if you don't shop there, the cops will take away your booze and fine you. Unless you live in Pennsylvania.

Had enough yet? And if you haven't...why the hell not?