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Thread: Pennsylvania Has Made It Both Difficult and Dangerous to Buy Liquor

  1. #1
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    Pennsylvania Has Made It Both Difficult and Dangerous to Buy Liquor

    Pennsylvania Has Made It Both Difficult and Dangerous to Buy Liquor
    The state has shut down all liquor stores, leading customers to crowd into retailers across the border.
    PETER SUDERMAN | 4.7.2020 8:00 AM

    Last week, Canal's Discount Liquor Mart, a liquor store in New Jersey located near the Pennsylvania border, reopened after several days of self-enforced closure.

    The store's owner had closed its doors because, like many New Jersey liquor stores along the state border, it had been flooded with customers in what Paul Santelle, executive director of the New Jersey Liquor Store Association, described to NJ.com as "a panic, a tsunami of business."

    The crush of customers, which the store's owner said reached more than 120 percent of the store's usual weekend capacity, didn't come from inside the state. Instead, it came from Pennsylvania, which closed all of its liquor stores on March 16.

    Pennsylvania, a "control state" in which every liquor store is operated by the state, has some of the most onerous rules governing alcohol sales in the nation.

    The state's response during the COVID-19 pandemic provides both an unfortunate reminder of the folly of giving the state government a near-monopoly over liquor sales—and an object lesson in how the closure of businesses in the name of public health can backfire.

    The shuttering of Pennsylvania's state-run stores meant that for weeks, it was nearly impossible to buy liquor legally within state borders. Only in-state distilleries licensed for direct consumer sales were able to sell spirits.

    "By closing all the stores, what they are doing is forcing a lot of people to simply go out of state," says David Ozgo, the Senior Vice President of Economic & Strategic Analysis for DISCUS, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. Ozgo notes that while other states also own and operate liquor stores, Pennsylvania is "the only state in the country that has taken this extreme measure."

    That didn't just make it harder for Pennsylvanians to buy liquor. It also made it unusually dangerous, as the experience of liquor retailers across the border in New Jersey shows. As Matt Dogali, the president and CEO of the American Distilled Spirits Alliance, told me, "It's counter to [COVID-19–related] containment measures to force people to travel long distances to crowded stores."

    Social distancing guidelines encourage people to travel as little as possible and to keep their distance when in the presence of others. That's much harder to do when the only option for purchasing liquor involves crossing a border. At least one county in West Virginia now prohibits the sale of liquor to Pennsylvania residents in order to stem the tide of border-crossing customers.

    Pennsylvania's closure of spirits stores sparked a similar effect inside the state, with customers reportedly rushing to state-run stores the day before they closed, resulting in record sales.
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    Dumb system, dumb policy.
    "What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer."

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    Pennsylvania's system of liquor control has always been dumb. The article is slightly wrong. You can still get beer and wine at grocery stores that are affiliated with the LCB.
    Not where I breathe, but where I love, I live...
    Robert Southwell, S.J.

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    Makins' for a thriving black market.

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    Quote Originally Posted by phillygirl View Post
    Pennsylvania's system of liquor control has always been dumb.
    The State never embraced the repeal of prohibition. When I worked for the PLCB while in nursing school in the 80's all the stores had ridiculous hours, in poor locations, with lousy parking. The full-time employees were the epitome of civil service government workers barely providing any service.
    If it pays, it stays

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    Tax revenuers in NJ, Del, Maryland must b doing a wee happy dance.

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