Monday, August 19, 2019

The Difference is What They Steal From You

I did a short post on this for the "Abolish the PLCB -- Rewrite the Code!" Facebook group. If you missed it there (and you really should join), this is the full version.

I'm about to go out shopping for my Labor Day get-together (planning ahead, as the PLCB minions always nag about). Phone in hand, I'm checking prices, just on the rare case that the PLCB put something I want on clearance. Because that's the only way they ever beat Total Wine's pricing. No surprises: no clearance deals, and nothing I wanted was on sale, or the difference might have been greater.

I usually go to New Jersey, but the Total Wine in Towson, Maryland was closer, and even with the so-called "Free State" (what bitter irony) charging a 9% sales tax on alcohol it worked out to about the same total cost as New Jersey, but with less driving time. This is a big store at 30,000 sq.ft. A true Superstore unlike anything in Pennsylvania. They also sell beer — like any real liquor store would — and as a bonus (for me, at least), they sell cigars, too. If Total Wine has a variable pricing scheme, it at least appears to favor the consumer with lower prices, and not just the owners. Competition will do that.
Here's the Pennsylvania version of variable pricing at work. Jack Daniel's is the largest selling American whiskey nationwide, and in both Pennsylvania and Maryland. If you compare the prices on big brands like that, keep this in mind: every dollar difference is what the PLCB is stealing from you with variable pricing. You know that Total Wine isn't losing money. They're set to overtake the PLCB in total sales shortly, so they must be doing something right, even though they have to deal with competition and not the easy ride of a police enforced monopoly.

Dare to compare:

Kendall Jackson Chardonnay Vintner's Reserve California PLCB $15.99, Total $9.97 - $6.02

Maker's Mark Straight Bourbon Whisky 1.75L PLCB $59.99, Total $44.99 - $15.00

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough PLCB $11.89, Total $10.97 - $0.92

Apothic Red PLCB $12.99, Total $7.97 - $5.02!

Tito's Handmade Vodka 80 Proof 1.75L PLCB $34.99, Total $28.99 - $6.00

Jack Daniel's Old No 7 Black Label 1.75L PLCB $46.99, Total $39.99 - $7.00

These are common choices, big sellers. Nothing out of the ordinary or esoteric to skew the results. It does show how badly we are being treated, how badly the PLCB is managed, how badly variable pricing is being abused...and how much the PLCB lied to get it. We told you this would happen. And here it is, in black and white.

End the charade. Privatize.


Anonymous said...

I recently came upon your blog, I was relocated to Pa back in July and trying to sort out all the rules and laws of Pa is mind blowing. I am curious if others have encountered some of those same experiences within this "organization".
I was in search of the Crown Royal Peach, there were a couple locations in the vicinity that I was willing to drive to. Every store I called said they were out. I stopped at the one store while running errands with my friend to see how we could purchase some bottles. I was given a print out that said Store 1532 had it. I called and was told yes, they have it in stock, but they sell to a licensee holder, but they would sell me a bottle or 2. This was on Aug 17. I find it with GPS ( not an easy place to find) I see a garage door open with some guys playing stickball and inquire with them. They said this was the place. The guys talked a bit, and then sold me a bottle.
I had let my friends know I had found the peach, and then they wanted to get some. So I took them to the warehouse. There was a McLaren P1 parked along the building that was gorgeous. Then there were my guys that hooked me up pouring alcohol off their loading dock into a drainage in the parking lot. My first thought was why would you dump alcohol, and not sell it at a discount, but then as my friend and I were talking it changed to why is something that is regulated by the state dumping into outside drainage areas? Where I am from that is illegal.
Move forward to the 19th. They are now the only store with peach. My friends girl calls and inquires if there was peach left, a woman says yes, she didn't say one or 2 so she asked for 6. They find the place and here at our Labor Day picnic, drinking some CR peach we were talking about that McLaren and then more and more was divulged. When they picked up the 6 bottles, they said this women came out from nowhere shaking her hands in the air with flip flops on yelling " Don't look behind the curtain, you see nothing, nothing is here". I can't act it out as good as my friends girl, but she portrays it great, imagine Exorcist. Needless to say, this experience in Pa has been memorable. I was told the state stores are a strong union group. I see why, my boss would see my ass to the curb for even one part of that. How do you go about getting E.H Taylor in Pa? Some of the people never heard of it here in the stores. I see something about a lottery for items, is it worth entering? This will be hard to get accustomed to.
Thank you for your time.

Albert Brooks said...

I believe that CR Peach is being closed out which is why it is so hard to find. I only see 6 bottles listed as being left in the state. You'll have to take a road trip to a free market state if you want more.

Most (maybe all) E.H. Taylor is sold by lottery and at over list price. It is up to you if that is worth it.

Pouring unsellable (for whatever reason) liquor and wine down the drain is the norm as far as I know. I've seem it done at a number of state stores.

I would have like to have seen the P1 myself but your guess is as good as mine why it was at a PLCB warehouse. Perhaps a rich club owner.

Anonymous said...

Pouring booze (whether it's good or bad) down the sewer? I thought that s*** ended with Prohibition!