Friday, May 29, 2015

How can there be "public ownership" when the public has no say?

The continuing fiasco in Clinton County.
How the PLCB looks at the citizens

At their April 8th meeting, the PLCB decided to move the State Store which has been at 137 Main Street in Lock Haven for decades to a shopping center outside of town. They didn't ask anybody in local government, or any local businesses or any of the know, those people who supposedly they work for. This has led to the Lock Haven City Council, along with Rep. Mike Hanna, the Clinton County commissioners, and Downtown Lock Haven Inc. having to fight the PLCB over who knows what is better for the community - the people that live and work there or the bureaucrats in Harrisburg.

Clinton County used to have two liquor stores, one in Lock Haven and one in Renovo. Two stores to service 900 square miles of Clinton County, until the Renovo store closed five years ago. Fear not, citizens! The PLCB has said they are "actively looking"  for a replacement spot in Renovo! So far, they've been actively looking four years, and counting. As one citizen said "If the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania wants to run the liquor business in this state, then it's the Commonwealth's responsibility to provide convenient locations for citizens to shop for liquor..."

I'm going to do my civic duty and let the PLCB know that there is an 8,100 sq. ft. property with 40 spots for parking at 112 St. Clair Street and Third St, Renovo, for lease. It was already a retail business and has a loading dock.  Explain to the citizens why you can't use it and why after all this time you haven't found out about it already.

Looking for 4 years, eh? FOUND IT!
Apparently the 75 mile round trip to the nearest state store from the outlaying areas of Clinton county fits the PLCB definition of "convenient"  Modernization won't fix that problem in Clinton county, or in Adams, Cameron, Fulton, Juniata, Mifflin, Montour, Perry, Snyder, Sullivan and Wyoming - other counties with just one store.

One of the cries of the people who for one reason or another want to keep this backward system is that in West Virginia some counties don't even have one store anymore. While that may be true, nobody in West Virginia has to drive as far as some people in Pennsylvania do - NOBODY.

The PLCB is obligated to serve all citizens of Pennsylvania. and the PLCB has failed the citizens of western Clinton County in this respect and continues to fail citizens across the state. Ask the people in Mountaintop if they were satisfied that it took two years to move a store 50 feet. Ask the citizens of Chester, a town of 45,000, if they are satisfied with their one state store. Ask the people that spend hundreds of millions out of state if they are satisfied, and ask the citizens who have consistently shown over four decades in every scientific poll that they want what most of the country thinks is a normal system over a state run system.

For 80 years the PLCB has only been concerned with itself, deciding what people should be allowed to buy, where to put stores, how many stores to have (there were over 750 at one point, there are 605 now), and when they should be open: like some overbearing, deaf deity bestowing its grace upon the unwashed masses.

The masses are getting sick and tired of it. Sick of a system that should have been done away with decades ago, sick of being told what they will be allowed to purchase by largely unknowing and incompetent overseers, sick of not having the convenience they see in other states, sick of the case law, sick of "interpretation," sick of graft and corruption, and sick of being treated like children.

The Pinchot legacy is alive and well in Pennsylvania - To make the purchase of alcohol as difficult and expensive as possible.

We are not safer, we are not better served and we are not satisfied and never will be with a state run system.



Anonymous said...

The PLCB has never really cared to do anything very well, but I do think the new batch of "modernized" FINE Wine & GOOD Spirits stores do serve a valuable purpose... they will make great spots for private liquor stores to open in, hopefully in the next decade. Since the PLCB has opened so many new stores and remodeled so many lately, I can easily see a lot of state store spaces ending up as private liquor stores whose owners are spared the expense of remodeling, repainting, etc (that is... IF the new private owners are okay with NOT customizing the store appearances to their own look).

As for Pennsylvania not having enough liquor stores, I assure you, upon privatization there will be at least double (if not triple) the number of private liquor stores as there currently are state stores. But let me ask YOU (any of the blog authors)... what most likely will happen to the current beer distributors once the state stores are privatized? I really can't picture the beer distributors selling wine/spirits at all, ever. Might beer stores stay in business to sell cases and kegs, but the new "liquor stores" (the replacements for the state stores) be the new sellers of wine, spirits, AND beer by the six pack?

Albert Brooks said...

What will happen to the beer distributors will depend on if the legislature makes one stop shops that didn't start as beer distributors. Right now the biggest threat to them is grocery stores buying "R" licenses and selling 6 packs. There were over 1800 distributors at one time and now it is under 1100 active so they have been dying off even without privatization and will continue to do so if they keep following the line the MBDA wants.

Anonymous said...

The older, smaller breed of state store (found both in downtowns AND in strip centers) has been dying for a long time. While I don't agree with the PLCB on a lot of their decisions, I think the trend towards fewer state stores is a good one. Yes, a lot of the time two small state stores are replaced by one big one, which may inconvenience people, but isn't the trend towards adding the premium collection to as many stores as possible a good trend?

Lew Bryson said...

No, it's not. The trend toward the Legislature FINALLY getting this diseased monkey off our backs, THAT'S a good trend. This is just more arrogance and asininity. There's no way having one liquor store in all of Clinton County is a "good trend" for anyone, except the PLCB. Which is how they've run things for years. They're done. Deep six. Good night.

Albert Brooks said...

Having fewer stores is only good for the monopoly not for the consumer. What other business thinks "Hey, things are going pretty good I think I'll close some stores." You, as a business, size the stores for the market you are trying to reach and not make the market come to the size store you selected - unless you can prevent the consumer from having any other choice.

Anonymous said...

8,100 square feet is small for a new Fine Wine & Good Spirits "premium collection" store (most are 10,000-15,000 square feet) yet is too big for a "standard" Fine Wine & Good Spirits. This might be why they haven't taken the site you suggested, even though it really isn't a "bad" size.