the Future through (the failures of) the Past
In the early 1980s the PLCB first came up with the idea of putting a State Store inside a real regular store. Boscov’s in Wilkes Barre and Joseph Horne Co., Pittsburgh were the two selected. It didn’t last as the Wilkes-Barre Store closed in late 1991 and the Pittsburgh one in 1993.
However, like most bad ideas that occur to the PLCB, the concept wouldn’t die, and on December 23, 2003 the PLCB started the first State Store inside a grocery store as part of the “modernization” of that time. Some of them are still around. The PLCB has managed to place about 16 stores within stores in over ten years of trying to convince grocery store owners of the value of this concept (and kept them in longer than the wine kiosks, but that's not saying much).
So here we are, 30 years after the original concept, ten years after the second attempt...and this kludgey idea is part of the PLCB's “modernization” plan. Thousands of grocery and retail stores ain’t buying it, and after 30 years of trying, at the rate the PLCB is getting stores in stores, it will take over 110 years to get up to just 10% of the state stores being 'more convenient' (unless they close more stores as they have been, that will make 10% easier to hit!), if you define 'convenient' as being able to walk into a different store and make a separate purchase.
Einstein's widely misquoted as saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. No matter who actually said it -- and we know there aren’t any Einsteins at the PLCB -- the core is solid. That's what makes the latest 'modernization' idea from Representative Gene DiGirolamo to put 400 square ft. State Stores in grocery stores...a little nuts. But his plan is endorsed by the clerks union (even if the plan essentially is a wine kiosk without the automation, though there will still be a PLCB employee there to make the sales, just like there was when the wine kiosks didn't work). This goes to show how out of touch the PLCB really is.While national trends in alcohol retail are toward larger stores, the brain trust at the PLCB wants to do the opposite. Must be that lack of retail experience, or maybe the fact that they know we can't go anywhere else that lets them make these bad decisions.
|Kind of what the store in a store would look like...minus the video.|
However...remember that the PLCB and the Union threaten that if the State's monopoly were broken up and privatized, you will only see one aisle with only the most popular items in grocery stores and they won’t have the full selection of a State Store. Now I have to ask: if one side of a 50’ (which is short for a grocery store) 4 shelf aisle is a minimum of 300 square ft and you don’t have to have room for a cashier or baskets or office or safe...how is this "store in a store" going to provide any better selection? And you still can’t buy a case or a sixpack of beer there, so the three trip problem (that ONLY Pennsylvania has) is still there. Maybe they think that 2 1/2 trips are an improvement: go to the PLCB store in a store (with separate checkout), walk to a different part of the store to the 'cafe' to buy a sixpack (with a separate checkout), and then drive to the beer distributor to get a case. Such an improvement!
Here's a thought. How about we privatize the whole damn system and make it truly easier for the consumer by having just one place to go when shopping for a legal product? How about we get the state out of subsidizing the sale of alcohol like they do milk? How about if we take the totally unqualified board out of retail, since they know nothing about it anyway (none has any experience in retail and that has been true for decades) and turn it over to people who do know retail business i.e. private businesses? How about if we allow the people the freedom of choice that most citizens who don’t live in Utah or PA enjoy? If you are a legislator, how can you not want this for your constituents?
Real Modernization IS Privatization!