Having to order something's not that bad, though; even at private stores they don't carry everything. But where they really put the screws to you is with the minimum orders. Six is the most common, sometimes it's two (I've seen them list a "minimum order quantity of 1"), but you'll see twelve listed as well; I'm looking at a twelve minimum right now, Oban Little Bay single malt.
|One order. Please to make minimum.|
What follows is a paraphrase of three conversations I've had on the topic with people who either work for the PLCB, work for their suppliers, or politically support it.
Apologists: No, no, you don't understand. It's not us! We don't put those minimums in place, it's the wholesaler!
Me: But the PLCB is the wholesaler. The only one.
No, no, the suppliers. We call them wholesalers sometimes.
That's confusing, but that whole situation is confusing. So you're saying that the suppliers tell you that you have to sell these in lots of at least two, or six or twelve?
Yes, it's their fault.
|You want this whiskey? You must buy all this whiskeys!|
Well, it's because of the stores out in Sullivan County, and Mifflin County, and [names eighteen other counties with only one or two stores]. If we have to ship to them only one bottle for a customer order, that's expensive and inconvenient, so we have the minimums.
That kind of makes sense if you're shipping one bottle to Sullivan County's one store, but don't you say that rural selection will go down if sales are privatized? What kind of selection do you have if you have to buy twelve of a bottle that costs $85?
You could get eleven friends to buy one.
But then I'd be like that guy in Malvern the BLCE busted for reselling wine, wouldn't I?
We didn't tell you to do that.
Yes, you did!
No, we didn't.
|Many bottles, so many! You must buy them all. Or buy NONE!|
Whatever. In any case, even if it does make sense for the far-flung stores, it doesn't make sense in the stores in Philly, and Pittsburgh, and the major suburbs where the store density is so much greater, does it? You're doing supply runs more often, to more stores, it would be easy to include small orders.
We can't. Those are the rules, because it has to be the same for everyone.
Wait...you told me it was because the suppliers said you had to do it.
We didn't say that.
Yes, you did, not two minutes ago.
No, you're confused.
Here's my promise for you, for 2016. I'm going to ask the PLCB these questions, the hard questions, the ones that make no sense, in writing, and keep asking them until I get solid, acceptable answers that make sense, in writing. We'll see how that goes.