Friday, August 12, 2011

TableLeaf: so much money for another bad idea

Back in 2009, we heard rumors that the PLCB was considering changing the name on the State Store System. They were spending a lot of money on it, too: $3.7 million, which may seem a bit exorbitant, considering you're talking about changing the name on a Police-Enforced Monopoly retail system. I mean, what were we going to our booze at the State Store 10 miles away instead? (Or, if you live in, say, Potter County, at the State Store 110 miles away?) What a waste: why does the State Store even bother? We are forbidden by law to buy booze anywhere else. What the hell do they care?

After spending the money (with a California-based firm, thanks so much, because Pennsylvania firms are all staffed by dopes, apparently), the best they could come up with was "Table Leaf." Which means...what, exactly? Anything to do with the best-selling vodka (Jacquin's Royale, very high-end), or the best-selling wine (Sutter Home White Zin, the plonker's choice)? No, not much to do with anything, and I was waiting to crucify them when they plastered that on the front.

Well, unfortunately, they came to their senses, and just call the State Stores "Fine Wine and Good Spirits." Dopey, right? Still, they'd spent all that money coming up with "Table Leaf," so they stuck it to another brilliant program: a house brand wine. They've recently rolled out TableLeaf Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay. (Note that there seems to be some disagreement on whether it's "TableLeaf" or "Table Leaf." Typical.)

So...the PLCB loves its suppliers so much that they've decided to go into competition against them! They're not satisfied with swinging their ponderous regulatory and monopoly weight against beer retailers;* they're going to use it against winemakers too!

Think about it, say you're Cycles Gladiator Cabernet Sauvignon, a nice wine we've bought for BYO dinners. You're on the shelf at the State Store System for $9.99, a good price. So now, your retailer, wholesaler, and regulator suddenly throws in their own brand, in direct competition, at $8.99...oh, and by the way, it shows up as an alternative selection every time you look at a cabernet sauvignon on the PLCB website, and you know damned well every clerk knows about it when people ask for a cab. I'd feel hard done by, but what are you going to say? You going to complain to your regulator? Not likely.

Kinda good to see the PLCB acting like the dominating, monopolistic SOBs they actually are, you know? This is government directly undercutting private business by manipulating their law-granted, police-enforced monopoly status. Is this fair? Privatize!

*Remember Dominic Origlio's line from the beer registration fiasco hearings?  "I would be remiss without mentioning what I believe is the underlying cause of these regulatory and enforcement problems. Pennsylvania's beer industry is regulated by its competitor -- the Liquor Control Board, a state run corporation which sells wine and liquor."


Anonymous said...

What a real ASSHOLE! Learn the facts, then write an article. BTW, you are most likely a non-drinker anyway!

Unknown said...

As I sit here drinking the very wine the state is now selling. It's a shame that the state has a strangle hold on our alcohol. I say open the market and stop forcing us to do what you want. They got the nerve to top shelf it, so my wife bought it. That was the only reason she bought it. Baiting!

Anonymous said...

Table Leaf isn't bad actually. Quite nice.

Anonymous said...

Ok so I'm a little late with my comment here. While I agree that there is a grey area here with the PLCB I, for one, am against privatizing. Why? Do I work for them or PA government? No. Because I live on the MD border - and I see their MUCH higher, over-taxed prices. I also, live 20 minutes from WV and 45 minutes from VA. None of those states have cheaper prices. I also check other states whenever I'm on a trip. EVERY MONTH I check the PLCB website and look at the sales for liquor and wine. I try to stock up when things are on sale, and sales also allow me to try new things. When in the process of checking the sales I check the other states and as part of my research into new, untried wines, I search online. I hardly ever find items cheaper (even on non-sale items) in other states. So, I don't care if it's state controlled or not, as long as I can get my alcohol cheaper I don't care who runs it. If we privatize PA is going to make up that revenue loss in taxes on alcohol and EVERYONE'S PRICES WILL GO UP!

Lew Bryson said...

Okay. That is not the experience of the rest of us. I live 15 minutes from New Jersey, and the prices AND the selection there are better than in PA, and the service is a LOT better. Same thing's true in Delaware. And...if you're that close to all three of those states, you're kinda out there a bit; maybe that has something to do with the prices. Look, I've posted actual price comparisons. You just said stuff, and you're Anonymous; it doesn't do much for your credibility.