The PLCB keeps telling us that they want to "modernize" their stores; the unions involved (the UFCW and ISSU) tell us the same thing; the Democratic legislators who dance merrily (in lockstep) to their tune put forth "modernization" proposals. But take a look at what they tell you, and wonder...if this stuff is so great...why aren't they already doing it?
What do we want? More convenience.
The PLCB Partisans offer this:
We can open more stores.
The PLCB already controls how many stores are open. There were 692 in 2000, there are 596 now. Neither the house or the senate had to vote to change that. They can open more stores any time they want to. They haven't, they've closed stores. Why? Probably because of their bulging overhead costs and mismanagement.
We can make shopping more convenient by putting more "stores in stores," State Stores in or beside grocery stores and beer distributors.
Not one of the new Fine Wine and Good Spirits Stores are "in a store" and none being built at this moment are either. Once again: if they can do it...why aren't they doing it now?
We can increase the hours.
Except for Sunday sales, which would require an act of the Legislature, the PLCB can set the hours for all stores now. If they wanted to be open 8AM-11PM, they could be. They obviously don't.
What does the Legislature want from the PLCB? More MONEY.
The PLCB Partisans offer this:
We can and have reduced costs to make more money for the state.
In the free market, reduced costs mean lower prices for the consumer; see Walmart as an example. I haven't seen it at the State Stores, have you? You come last at the PLCB.
We will turn in a record amount of money to the general fund this year.
It's juggling. Next year, when they bring inventory back up to normal, hire the 400 people that they purposely didn't hire this year to make the numbers look good and pay for new stores at a faster rate than the current 100 year completion schedule, it will go back down to historical percentages or lower. But by then the privatization scare will be over, so they don't care about next year.
What do we really want? A chance to buy in great stores like they have in other states: a choice.
The PLCB Partisans tell us: The PLCB is "a world-class shopping experience...akin to Williams-Sonoma."
You don't become "world class" simply by saying you are "world class." You do it by working hard, exceeding expectations in selection, customer service, and meeting customers needs and wants...and then being judged "world class" by independent experts in your field. Even the ISSU, the Independent State Store Union, which represents the stores' managers, calls it "their delusional effort as a wannabe 'world class
retailer'".(ISSU press release, Dec. 9, 2011)
As we saw with the wine kiosks, the PLCB knows nothing about "modernization." In fact, expecting an agency that came up with such a clunky idea as the wine kiosks to offer sound ideas on "modernization" is like asking your dog for advice on how to fix your car.
Remember, folks: Privatization IS Modernization. We don't need to "modernize" the PLCB; we need to put it out to pasture where it belongs.
Thanks to Albert Brooks for the core ideas of this post.