05 January 2011

The Booze Monopolies in Pa. and Va. In Jeopardy?

Reason.com has a quick essay covering efforts by legislatures in four states (including nearby Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina) to kill state-controlled monopolies on the sale of wine and spirits.  These "monsters" have proven unusually resistant in the past to efforts to drive stakes through their hearts, but there seems to be a renewed sense of optimism in 2011.

Granted, these measures/proposals don't directly affect beer (unless the insane Keystone State requirement that beer only be sold in case lots from distributors, except in bars/delis at bar prices, also falls), but changes in the overall booze market tend to indirectly affect beer.  Imagine if--and I really must be consuming something narcotic here--Pennsylvania were to allow supermarket sales of booze?

(A reminder that fellow writer Lew Bryson maintains a separate blog devoted exclusively to the inanities and insanities of Pennsylvania's LCB and the efforts to abolish same....)


JohnM. said...

"Imagine if--and I really must be consuming something narcotic here--Pennsylvania were to allow supermarket sales of booze?"

When you say booze, are you including beer in that generalization? As you probably know, Wegmans has found a way around the current law in Pa., and you can in fact buy 6 packs and bombers there.

Again, as you probably know, most Wegmans have on site cafes, which ostensibly are the actual entities selling the bottles of beer at the store.

Alexander D. Mitchell IV said...

I would make the case that Wegman's is to grocery stores in general what Max's Taphouse is to beer bars, the Mall of America is to department stores, or a military HumVee is to a Subaru or Jeep.

Get back to me when Wegman's is operating in Potter, Perry, Greene, or Susquehanna Counties in Pennsylvania--or, for that matter, Garrett or Queen Anne's Counties, Maryland.

JohnM. said...

@ Alex

???? Now I'm confused. I realize that Wegmans holds itself out as a "high end," gourmet emphasis, grocery store (not unlike Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, Market of Choice, Seasons, etc.), but that somehow makes them less of a grocery store?

Not every city has a Trader Joe's either. That somehow makes them less of a store? I'm sorry, I'm just not getting your point (or your analogy for that matter).

Alexander D. Mitchell IV said...

You ARE confused.

Wegman's (at least all the ones I've seen/visited) are "supermarkets on steroids." Just like The Mall of America is not your typical shopping mall, or Disney World is not your local firemen's carnival.

As you yourself noted, Wegman's found a way around existing booze laws in Pa. to offer what they do in their stores. They have the square footage and the money to take that extraordinary effort. We simply can't expect the same from an Acme, a Weis Markets, Pathmark, or Bi-Lo--They're not big enough, and that's not "what they do".

JohnM. said...

Now I get it I think. So in your OP, when you provided what you felt was an absurd hypothetical eventuality, you meant to say only "typical" supermarkets, and not Wegman or Harris Teeter like stores in Pa.

My apologies, but pehaps you should have included that qualifying statement in your OP. As you can seem, some of us are easily confused when we read what sounds very much like an all inclusive statement.