Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Approves 6-Pack Sales At Gas Stations!
Pa. Liquor Control Board allows gas stations to sell 6-packs!
Gas and brews: Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board approves beer sales at gas stations!
Pennsylvania Finally Catches Up With The Rest Of America, Legalizes Selling Six-Packs Of Beer At Gas Stations!
No, no, and no. Gas stations near you probably still won't be selling beer (without jumping through ridiculous hoops first) and Governor Wolf had nothing to do with it. It's just one more chunk of pathetic bullshit from Harrisburg, designed to dazzle and placate you and keep your mind off how crappy the booze sales system in this state is. Allow me to explain.
First? This is about nine gas stations in the entire state which bought existing licenses (of various types; that's explained quite well here if you're interested) -- like the supermarkets that are "allowed" to sell beer 12 bottles at a time -- and just wanted to have those licenses approved...because, of course, the Almighty Liquor Code actually "prohibits the sale of liquid fuels or oil by licensees."
|Just add beer...sorry, not allowed in Pennsylvania!|
Now, I'm all in favor of ignoring the Almighty Liquor Code myself; I do it all the time by running to NJ for booze. But it's one thing when I do it; it's completely something else when the state regulatory agency in charge of enforcing and interpreting The Almighty Liquor Code is doing it. This kind of arbitrary decision leads to madness and badness.
What kind of badness? Realize this: every time one of these gas stations buys a license, that's a bar license (R license, "deli" license, or a straight-up D distributor license; they're buying whatever they can get their hands on) that's out of circulation for years, not being used as intended. Ordinarily, I'd say, who cares? But this is Pennsylvania, where the number of bar licenses is limited by population: 1 license per 3,000 people per county. Then realize that bar and deli licenses, unlike every other kind of license, can be bought and sold on the open market for whatever the market will bear, and you see that every gas station and supermarket that buys a license makes the price of other licenses higher. And that means fewer start-up bars, more chain restaurants, and more high-end expensive bars...and more bars that are likely to try to sell as much booze as possible to make that monthly payment on the license. Not good. I wrote about that here. What else? Well, how about...the Board can easily play favorites, because they can decide the next batch of applications don't get approved, and they don't have to give any reason, nor are they bound by precedent...because that's how the PLCB works. Every ruling stands on its own. Period.
It would be much better to have a new license for retail beer sales, without the stupid 12-pack restrictions and separate register foolishness, than to continue to do this workaround. But that would require the Legislature to do something, and that would upset the tavern owners AND the beer distributors...even more than this is.
To my pleased surprise, the decision also was not well-received by the Brewers of Pennsylvania, who responded -- correctly!-- that "To truly “free the six-pack” as Governor Wolf requested from the PLCB, then the future call to action must be to allow six-packs to be sold in many more businesses than just gas stations... To truly achieve consumer convenience as well as provide for a variety of purchasing options for consumers, the BOP highly recommends allowing six-pack sales in all channels of trade. Doing so would immediately benefit all small craft beer producers in Pennsylvania..." BOP president Bill Covaleski (of Victory Brewing) told me "the consumer is at the forefront of our thinking. We are headed in the direction of the consumer, we need them to tell us where that is." He noted that "where that is" clearly seemed to be in every grocery store and convenience store. It's refreshing to see that the brewers get what the Legislature doesn't: the consumers should be considered first, not the special interest groups.
Second? Once again, this is about nine gas stations in the entire state. It does NOT mean "gas stations can sell sixpacks." You won't be seeing beer at every Wawa anytime soon, especially not in southeast Pennsylvania, because bar licenses are really freakin' expensive here; like around $400,000 in Montgomery County. So why is everyone so excited? Because Governor Wolf made a big deal about this.
|Yay me! I wroted a letter!|
Did anyone know Wolf was a big supporter of "free the six pack"? No, you didn't, because "Free the six pack" was just something Wolf hitched his wagon to the day before the PLCB was going to approve these piddling nine applications. He's an opportunistic fraud.
To recap: not much has changed; Wolf had nothing to do with it; and this is still a terrible way to change things. As I've said for years, the arbitrary nature of the PLCB and the byzantine impenetrability of the Almighty Liquor Code make for an ever-worsening situation here.
So when you don't see beer at your local gas station...remember this, will ya? And tell your legislators to Rewrite The Code, with you in mind, not the unions and the beer distributors and the tavern owners and the convenience stores and Pat Deon. It's the only way we'll ever change this.