Tuesday, October 14, 2014

We can't even be better than Utah

There are 2 and only 2 states that completely control the sale of wine and spirits. One is Pennsylvania and the other is Utah. Pennsylvania, the Keystone state, the state where our democracy was formed, one of the 13 original United States of 1776. Utah, 120 years younger, a theocratic territory with a religious background of no drinking,

You would think that Pennsylvania with over 4 times the population would have stores that any large U.S. city would claim. Small boutique stores in trendy urban areas, Specialty stores with unique selections picked out by knowledgeable owners, Mega stores with 30,000 square feet of retail space and 10,000 products in stock. Pennsylvania has none of that. In fact, the Commonwealth has fewer stores per capita than Utah, and even less when you look at the number of stores per drinking age population.

Here is a store in Heber Utah,, population 12,900, that if transported to anywhere in PA would be the 2nd largest store in the state. That is only because the PLCB has opened ONE in the entire state that is larger and that happened only a few months ago.

Is it a fluke?  Something they did to to show off?  I mean, doesn't PA have thriving metropolises of 13,000 people or MORE that could use a store like this?  Not according to the PLCB.  Their cookie cutter approach means that even places that could support specialty stores, Mega stores and boutique stores don't get them. The PLCB doesn't know how to run them, staff them or even sell in them. Our system is so backasswards that "modernization" actually results in LESS products available in a given store size. Why doesn't Philly or Pittsburgh or Scranton or Harrisburg or Erie rate a store like Utah has in Hurricane  (population 13,700).  A store that is bigger than anything in PA...how's that work? 

Does their DABC actually pay attention to consumer demand? Are they run by actual business people and not political hacks?  (Not really, their board is as hackneyed as ours) Is it because they have an advisory committee of real business owners, brewers, restauranteurs and health professionals?  My guess is that they are actually more competent across the board and are held more accountable then the people who run the PA state store system. You don't see DABC officials being cited for graft or nepotism or coming up with wine kiosks, or failed "store in a store" ideas.

In another state, New Hampshire just opened two 20,000 square foot stores both larger than anything in PA. We know what a thriving business they have since people actually go to their state stores rather than away from them like in Pennsylvania. In just over 2 years Washington now has over 40 stores larger than anything in PA. That's what happens when you pay attention to consumer demand. We get wine kiosks.

While nobody should suffer under the limitations of states monopolizing what should be privately-owned and run retail...the question is, why do Pennsylvania residents have to be at the bottom?

Privatization IS Modernization.


Bert Klein said...

Where is the only PLCB store that is larger than this Utah store?

Albert Brooks said...

5956 Penn Circle South, Suite 201,
Pittsburgh. It opened on August 21st this year and is 17,000 sqft.