Friday, April 30, 2010

Sheetz hits fan on beer sales

Earlier this week I talked about the editorial board’s visit with state Sen. Anthony Williams, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor.

I like him. He speaks his mind, and he doesn’t especially care whose toes he steps on in the process. That’s a good thing.

We don’t, however, see eye to eye on everything.

Specifically, we are diametrically opposed on the matter of Pennyslvania’s archaic method of selling alcohol.

I am a firm believer in pushing the plunger and blowing up the state Liquor Control Board and turning the whole matter over to private enterprise.

Legislation to at least do part of that – the part handled by the Pa.
State Stores – which sell wine and spirits, has been introduced in the Legislature. I don’t expect it go anywhere. These plans never do.

Williams is OK with that. He’s not a proponent of dumping the current system. His big beef is that he doesn’t want a lot of low-grade alcohol being sold in neighborhood stores. He also notes that the state stores provide a big chunk of revenue in the state.

We can agree to disagree.

My point is this. I want the whole notion of alcohol sales in this state revised. That means I want to go one place and be able to buy beer (either a six-pack or a case), wine, alcohol, soda and ice.

Right now that might be as many as three trips.

If I want a six-pack, that’s a trip to a local bar or deli, where I likely will pay through the nose. A case takes me to a beer distributor, but I can’t buy a six-pack there. Wine and spirits? That of course means a visit to the state store.

Some supermarket chains are making inroads in this system. Wegmans is now selling beer in some of their supermarkets. But even there it’s more than one trip. You can’t grab a six-pack, put it in your cart, and do the rest of your grocery shopping. Instead you have to pay for the beer at a separate checkout line in that portion of the store. Wonderful.

You also can’t grab a six-pack in your local convenience store, as I once did while living in Colorado. I’ll never forget the first time I was in a 7-Eleven out there, and noticed the cooler right next to the checkout line. What a novel idea. Supermarkets there had complete sections where you could buy beer, wine or alcohol. I don’t recall sales of booze to minors being a big problem. Nor did I notice a bunch of drunken drivers clogging the parking lots.

If the folks at the Sheetz convenience store chain have their way, Pennsylvania just might be entering a new era of beer sales. They have gotten an OK from the courts to sell takeout beer at one of their locations in Altoona. There are no Sheetz stores in the Delco area.

As you might guess, the beer distributors are not thrilled about this prospect. They are vowing to go to court to fight it.

Only in Pennsylvania.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

thats is all pa needs more outlets for booze so we can hire more police to over see kids selling kids booze that will keep us all safer wake up befour pa has a excuse to hire more oversite employers to lower your taxes this is nothing more then big lobby crushing small business dont be fooled

May 1, 2010 at 11:46 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone should ask Mr. Williams if the money the state makes on alchohol sales takes into account the operating expenses of said state facilities. I can't imagine the worst businessman in the world being less efficient than the state.

May 3, 2010 at 11:34 AM 

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