Monday, March 28, 2016

Pennsylvania isn't even a good liquor control state Pt. 2

In the first part of this story, we showed that even the other control states didn't think much of the PLCB, pretty much shutting them out of the "best practices" awards at the NABCA convention (National Alcohol Beverage Control Association; yes, it's real). Maybe it's because Pennsylvania doesn't even pay attention to what other control states are doing.

Imagine you are a slow, lumbering dinosaur from the Prohibitioneaous Era, just doing your own thing, not really paying any attention to what the world around you is doing; why should you, you've got the world to yourself! About 40 years ago, you get this itch. It isn't so bad, so you just ignore it, but it gets a little worse each year. Finally you decide to see what it is, and you plod over to the dinosaur doctors at Stateways (where all the dinosaurs go!). They tell you that you need to paint yourself different colors, and maybe put some State Approved plants around where you hang out to hide your huge bulk and ungainliness. Maybe change your name from Huge Lizard to Fine Green Friendly Lizard so that people might forget how big dumb and slow you are. That should help, they say. and also you should pay some attention to what the other lizards are doing and not just wander off and do whatever you want to any more.
I'm a dinosaur too!
But you're the biggest dinosaur in the land, and nobody can tell you how to do things! You've been doing the same thing forever, and in your mind it has worked just fine. (Remember that dinosaurs have little tiny brains for their size). So while the other dinosaurs finally figure out what all those bothersome little ants want (the customers), you continue as you were, because you know best. And you never see the comet.

And so it goes with the PLCB.  For example, the other control states (why can't we be more like New Hampshire?) finally figured out what the new hot brands of vodka are, ones that the people want to try, and put out a list. Now I can't imagine how long it takes a bunch of bureaucrats to figure out what is "hot" compared to the free market (maybe they chipped in and got a subscription to Market Watch), but they did and published it in the March 10th issue of the control state magazine (18 readers and dropping!).

You won't be surprised to learn that the PLCB has ONE of the five hot brands listed. Is it something new and unusual that their buyers discovered? Of course not. It is Elyx, a high-end variant of Absolut, and while it's admittedly excellent and quite's garnered a ton of press, and is a variant of the largest selling imported vodka in the PLCB inventory. I bet that took some real effort on the part of the PLCB to pick it out.
The PLCB knows whats hot!
If you are curious, the "hot" vodkas picked out by the control states (except PA) are:
1. Goral Vodka Master.
2. Absolut Elyx Vodka
3. Bombora Vodka
4. Black Death Vodka
5. Danzka Vodka

Remember how the goal of the PLCB is to be better than Utah?  Utah carries two of these. Want to guess how many are available in the private stores across the Delaware river?

When Macy's doesn't have the color you want: you go to another store.
When Boscov's doesn't have the style you want: you go to another store.
When Giant doesn't have the meat you want: you go to another store.
When Mattress King doesn't have the mattress you want at the price you want to pay: you go to another store.
When the PLCB doesn't have what you have to (illegally) go to another state!

Private business, private retail, is how America shops for everything else. When will Pennsylvania see booze normality?

1 comment:

Sam Komlenic said...

All of the whiskey for my daughter's wedding this summer will come from out of state. Handles of Evan Williams 1783 are $26 per 1.75 in Maryland vs. $19 for a 750 here, no larger size available, though if it was we could expect a price north of $35 here.

Pikesville rye, too, though that's not the PLCB's's only available in MD, but we have no rye handles of any kind here.

The recent drop of Old Grand-Dad Bonded handles here was a travesty, too. If it only sells well in parts of the state, that's not enough. It has to sell well statewide to stick around. Private stores would stock it where it sells. What a concept.

George Dickel No. 8 and Old Forester have been discontinued and brought back at least twice in recent memory. Why can't we just keep it in stock and quit pissing around?