Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I'll be on FOX 29 tonight on the 10 O'Clock News

I've been asked to appear on the Fox 29 10 O'Clock News to talk about Senator Rafferty's proposed bill to "allow" beer sales in grocery stores. I'll be talking with their investigative reporter Jeff Cole and Paul Farthing, the owner of Chal-Brit Beverages in Chalfont about the issue. You can watch it on the live stream on the website, or on your TV, if you're local.

I know Uncle Jack's going to be laughing himself silly about me being on FOX, but...they asked. I'm happy to talk about this issue. Senator Rafferty's bill is the best shot we've had at this in years, but I'm still not nuts about it. For one thing, it complicates The Almighty Liquor Code, it doesn't simplify it: it creates a new class of license, and gets rid of the case law essentially by re-defining a "case" as a six-pack. Great, that makes it easy to understand.

Anyway, we'll see what happens. Hope I don't say anything too stupid!

18 comments:

Uncle Jack said...

Uncle Jack has no problem at all with local Fox affiliates. They are a separate entity from Fox News. You really need to pay more attention. That said, I would pay to see you in a discussion with Glen Beck.

Good luck tonight.

Adam said...

Break a leg!

bill mc said...

They made a good choice, knock 'em dead!!

That Glenn Beck idea is intruiging....

Rebecca Stephens said...

Wow!! I missed it...I was at Capone's talking to Matt in the beer store. i hope to catch a link of it.

RICH said...

Excellent job. Concise in all your points, and the best conclusion out of all of that: six packs being sold in distributorships! Waitaminute..that would be just like other states do it..... nah, makes too much sense.

Anonymous said...

Just watched online. When someone from the distributors side says they would love to sell sixpacks, why does no one ask why the sixpack attempt of 2007(?) failed? I thought that fell through because distributors did not want to give an inch to the taverns and let them sell more than 2 sixes. The current bill is far more threatening to the distributors, so I see them putting up an even larger fight. I'm feeling no love (never have) from or for the distributors.

Lew Bryson said...

This bill gives nothing to the distributors. But I don't think the failure of the 2007 sixpack bill was that simple. For that matter, I don't see why a sixpack bill should give anything to the tavern owners. If a tavern owner wants to sell more than two sixpacks, it's not that hard; the law just says no more than two sixpacks in a single transaction. Two sales = one case. In my experience, tavern owners who don't sell more than two sixpacks to a customer don't want to sell more than two sixpacks.

Anonymous said...

I thought this bill would give the distributors the right to sell sixpacks. No? It's not just about grocery and convenience stores being allowed to sell. Sounds like the distributors would be getting something. Or do they not REALLY want to sell 6s as they say, just preferring to leave things as they are? Again, leaving the 4th tier out as has been for so long. I think what they are afraid of getting is competition.

And if it's no big deal for taverns to sell more than 2 sixes, then why maintain the current limit? As the 4th tier, I don't enjoy making 3 trips into a place to buy a 12 pack and 2 sixes and a couple bottles.

Also, you seemed pretty certain that prices would go up if this bill goes through, if I'm not mistaken. I don't see it that way, as neighboring states have lower prices than PA.

If you do have any info on why the 2007 bill failed, could you share? That seemed such a reasonable small patch to the current "system". If that couldn't fly, I have a hard time imagining the current bill going very far.

Thanks.

Rich said...

Lew, he makes the argument about "less selection" because big brewers will buy shelf space. Is that currently prohibited by law that the brewers can buy shelf space in the distros? My thoughts were always that distros could dedicate more shelf space to their best brands, but there could be no kickbacks. I thought you did an awesome job...great job on the props to the "fourth tier". Cheers!

Lew Bryson said...

Sorry, yes, you're right: it would give distributors the right to sell sixpacks. My mistake. What it doesn't give them is the right to sell anything beyond the very limited stuff they can sell now: beer, soda, tobacco, lottery, and glassware. It doesn't give them the right to hold more than one license (which the grocery stores do). Two very big points. That said...yeah, they don't want the competition, and they really don't want competition at a disadvantage.

There's no reason to maintain the current limit on tavern sales; there's no REAL reason to have ANY limits on sales. (You don't really have to make 3 trips into a place to get that much beer; three separate transactions on the register satisfies the law. It is still an unnecessary pain in the neck, but most taverns make it worse.) That's one of the things I don't like about this bill, like I said: it tinkers. Just rewrite the whole damned thing. A lot of the reason the Code is so hard to understand is because of tinkering.

Prices will go up because the market price of a license will go up, because there will be no new licenses created to give all these groceries and c-stores beer sales. That's a serious part of overhead, and they'll have to make it up. Again: bad bill, and a major stumbling block.

What I understand is that the big brewers didn't like the sixpack law. They wanted something better. That's why we never get 4th tier relief: everyone involved in the business end wants every single crumb they can get. There's no vision, there's no compromise.

Really? Everyone gets hosed by PA's booze laws in some way.

Marc said...

I saw an article in the Pittsburgh Post a few months ago. It quoted a few Western PA distributors saying that allowing Giant Eagle to sell six packs has actually increased their craft beer sales. It has allowed consumers to try a beer, that they normally would not, and then want to buy larger quantities. Maybe the rest of the state should listen!

Lew Bryson said...

Rich,
I don't think he was really making the "buying shelf space" argument, just that stores have limited shelf space compared to distributors (not necessarily true, but likely), and would therefore have less selection; and the big grocers would cut selection to cut costs. True 15 years ago, but as anyone who's been to a beer-selling Wegmans knows, not true today.

The point I didn't get to make: Distributors would be fine if you gave them two things: get rid of the case law, and let them sell wine and spirits. An elegant solution. Works well in Massachusetts. I like the package store solution. If we had privately owned "all-alcohol" package stores that sold only booze and booze paraphernalia (glasses, books, cocktail mixers, etc.), and sold a more reasonable number of licenses for them, I don't really need beer in the c-stores and grocery stores. I've seen this system in Mass, and I like it.

Lew Bryson said...

Another thing I wanted to bring up, Marc! There's just not much time to talk.

Anonymous said...

"Prices will go up because the market price of a license will go up, because there will be no new licenses created to give all these groceries and c-stores beer sales."

IF one were to believe Shipula, though there would be no new licenses, many currently held/unused licenses would be bought up, creating many more outlets. He approaches it from the "more outlets = bad for the state" angle. (Even though the state, in their wisdom, has determined the current number of total licenses is OK.) So, if Shipula is right, the overall price should not rise as much as one may think.

And I'm with you on no need for grocery and convenience store sales. I grew up with the concept of "liquor stores" and thought it worked rather well. That's me of course. I could see those used to g/c-stores thinking only liquor stores being archaic.

Lew Bryson said...

"If one were to believe Shipula" is the flaw there. Dave Shipula's a nice guy, but he also believes that selling beer where you sell gas is dangerous, and that kids shouldn't see beer in a grocery store. Licenses aren't off the market because there's no buyer; there's other reasons that will still apply.

Reason I like liquor stores is because I like buying my booze from someone who actually has a clue about what they're selling me!

TJ's said...

"You don't really have to make 3 trips into a place to get that much beer; three separate transactions on the register satisfies the law. It is still an unnecessary pain in the neck, but most taverns make it worse."

Technically that is correct. However, there was a story in the Observer about a couple of years ago where a judge found against the licensee for knowingly selling a quantity larger than 192oz dictated by the code, despite the separate transactions and subsequent trips back and forth to the car.

So while it appears as the taverns are making it worse, in reality we're just trying to keep our asses out of trouble. Which is becoming more and more difficult with the archaic and nearly impossible to decipher liquor enforcement code.

Lew Bryson said...

Good point. That's why the Code is really at the bottom of so much of the trouble. It's an asinine limit, and it's made worse by being nebulous.

Dylan said...

I can sure see why a distributor like Chal-Brit would be concerned about a potential change in the status quo; their business plan amounts to nothing more than taking advantage of the area monopoly the current system affords them. Any changes that would allow the Giant (almost with in spitting distance) down the street or someone else in proximity to sell beer would mean they have to think about how to attract and retain customers.....like every other retail business already does.

Someone needs to explain to me the supposed intrinsic relationship between the number of retail outlets and underage drinking. Yes, the more people engaged in selling beer the more opportunity for mistake and failure of compliance but the notion that retailers can't do an acceptable job screening purchases for age compliance is laughable.

...all we have to do is look outside of our own backyard.