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Monday, February 16, 2009

New poll on the case law at the PLCB blog

I've got a new poll up at my blog Why The PLCB Should Be Abolished. It's about one of Pennsylvania beer drinkers' favorite topics: the case law.

Specifically: Polls show that over 80% of Pennsylvanians are opposed to the case law -- even MADD doesn't support it -- yet a six-pack sales bill still languishes in the Legislature after over a year. Why do your elected representatives continue to thwart your wishes?

I hope you find the answer choices, as always, entertaining and enlightening.


hiikeeba said...

I hate to be a cynic, but I assume it's because someone is lobbying the legislators to keep the law as is. Either the distributors (unlikely--a sale is a sale to them); the retailers (most likely because it might reduce their total sales--a case costs more that a sixer, after all), or some lobby group that knows what's best for all of us (Like Center for Science in the Public Interest or MADD, for example).

Lew Bryson said...

I'm sure it is that. Just remember: in PA, "distributor" means retailer, it's the local jargon. A wholesaler is the one who distributes. And the tavern owners are in it, because they figure their six-pack biz would disappear. But MADD is mostly neutral on this, and has said it's in favor of a six-pack law: means people might buy less beer, after all. I suspect most other New Drys would feel the same way. Some of them don't want ANY changes, though...

Anonymous said...

The six-pack law will stay right where it is until the Vince Fumo of Harrisburg the big cheese steak eating Eagles no it all decides how his buddies will benefit the most..Go talk to the beer distributors who have trained on the new lottery machines only to be told they will not be getting them,apparently Mr Eagle has a few cronies who also have some instrests in different lottery machines and did not get to bid on these lottery slot machines,their worse than the slots,people losing money they can not afford to loose.
When the Beer distributors get the six-packs the supermarkets will be considered and the beer wholesalers will be up the creek without their paddle...Go figure

Lew Bryson said...

I assume by "Vince Fumo of Harrisburg" you mean Governor Rendell, since The Vince has resigned and ain't decidin' shit any more.

When the Beer distributors get the six-packs the supermarkets will be considered (considered what?) and the beer wholesalers will be up the creek without their paddle

why would sixpacks in supermarkets mean the end of wholesalers? It hasn't in any other state, not even Washington, which was looking like a pretty sure bet two years ago. You're either crying wolf, or crying like a pussy. (Yeah!)

Anonymous said...

The Pennsylvania Malt Beverage Distributors Association (MBDA) does not want a six pack law, opting instead for a 12 pack preference. not sure why, but that's where they stand.

Maybe they don't want to appear to be stepping too hard on the toes of the bars and six pack shops they count as customers.

Anonymous said...

Did not say the wholesalers would be out of business only meant that they would have to spend money money money buy paying people to service the markets. Trucks waiting for hours to make deliveries to the markets,pack-out men pulling out beer in the back rooms,spending money for shelf space, spending cash to secure adds in the local papers to advertise their Bud,Coors,Miller specials forget any craft beers.
The only wolf around this area resides up on Southampton road..
Supermarkets will be considered for licenses to sell beer when the fat man sells the beer distributors down the road and starts granting them new licenses to compete with beer distributors.

Lew Bryson said...

Hey, Anony, why don't you stop being half-clever and just say what you mean? You're hiding behind that Anonymous like a big chickenshit anyway...why not just say it? You too gutless to say what's on your mind when you're hiding behind Google's privacy skirts?

The rest of your scenario sounds like so much bogeyman stories. Oh, the supermarket sales are going to kill the beer distributor! AHHH!!!

I just don't see widespread supermarket or convenience store beer sales happening in PA, whether I'd like to see it or not. Right not, the only way they get beer sales is by buying a bar or deli license, and there just aren't that many of them. If it gets tight, the MBDA and the Tavern Owners are going to war over six-pack sales.

But you know what? The beer consumer's been screwed for years in PA. Maybe it's time for someone else to take it for a change. Maybe you ought to try worrying about the people at the bottom of the damned pile for a change, like maybe the legislators ought to think about us for once.

I've about had it with everyone else's 'rights' and 'interests' coming first. I'm a beer drinker. I buy beer in this state. I got rights, I got interests, and I want to buy your beer. Who really wants to sell it to me?

Don't try to scare me with tales of craft disappearing; it's too late, that genie's out of the bottle. If you're a wholesaler or retailer and you don't think you need to have a decent craft portfolio, you're not just behind the times, you're delusional.

Got anything to say to that? Anonymously, of course.

Anonymous said...

The lobbying efforts of the Pa Taverns and MBDA to control who gets to sell what, where, and how much, is the greatest hypocrisy that the Keystone state has to offer, and anybody who has ever lived here knows that is saying something. These are private business venutres who are the first to rally around the Laissez Faire flag whenever they feel threat of increased regulation or taxation. At the same time they constantly petition and influence the state to block free competition and limit consumer choice and freedom through coercive regulation. That is a lot closer to fascism than socialism. Screw them.

Anonymous said...

Where in what I said that the six-pack law will kill the beer distributor,for the most part the distributors who want the six-pack laws are already getting their stores ready,better lighting,expanded cooler doors with feeders for 12 packs and six packs,drilling holes in their cold boxes and putting kegs that can be sampled not Miller,Coors,and BUD MOSTLY SPECIALTY BEERS,putting beer draws in their store so people can sample some before spending fifty bucks on something never tried..
Personnely I think your brain has been marinating to long...
We live in a state that has laws we need people to change these laws,I have neither the time nor the inclination to try and explain myself.
Supermarkets and Rite Aids will be the first to get licenses,then the gloves are off..Wall Mart,Costco will all have licenses then the rat bastards from the breweries will buy past the wholesaler the ones that are still left standing,and what will be left will be one wholesaler in the Philadelphia area with all the big boys in the house..When this happens the price of the craft beers will be thru the roof and the few that will remain will be the real winners..
You do not want the truth because deep down in places you do not talk about at your tastings and samplings and bar promotions this business is in very bad shape and only getting worse....
Cheers Punpkin Head

Lew Bryson said...

You can't handle the truth!!

Okay, Col. Jessup, settle down.

"We live in a state that has laws we need people to change these laws,I have neither the time nor the inclination to try and explain myself."

We all live in states that have laws. And if you think we need people to change the laws...why wouldn't you explain yourself? You say you don't have the time or inclination, but you keep showing up here and writing these long, maundering comments... What you've written, what you've been writing for months, just doesn't make much sense.

"This business is in very bad shape"? I see a business that is changing and being created anew, and if the state would get the hell out of the way, it could take place faster. Wholesaler consolidation is changing things, but small specialty wholesalers keep springing up -- Stockertown, for instance, and Bella Vista, here in southeast PA -- to meet needs. Craft prices skyrocketing? That's happening anyway, and it's for a multiplicity of reasons.

Sharpen up your arguments. If you don't have the time or inclination to "explain yourself"...well, then don't bother at all.

Anonymous said...

As far as I am concerned, the more layers of useless no-value added flab disintermediated in this crappy value chain , the better. Too many hands out taking a piece just becuase they can. Give consumers a chance to choose the winners and losers and they will.

Lew Bryson said...


I know it's currently the fashion to bash wholesalers as useless, government-mandated parasites who just get in the way of people who want to buy beer directly from their favorite brewers.

Fashionable, but it's not fair. Wholesalers do perform valuable service, which is why there are wholesalers in most retail sectors. Getting product to retailers not in their immediate neighborhood would require a lot of effort and investment of brewers -- Brooklyn did it, but only because they had to, back in the day, and they got out of it as soon as they could to work with wholesalers. Wholesalers deal with a lot of the paperwork, they do a lot of sales support, they work festivals, they carry some of the advertising load. We're talking about the good ones, and I talk to a number of the good ones, here in PA, in the mid-Atlantic, and in New England. I talk to brewers, too, and they love a good wholesaler. There are ones who don't do such a good job, as there are in every industry.

The problem with beer wholesale, in my estimation, is the web of state laws -- like the case law, and others -- that result in situations where the wholesaler has too much power in the equation between brewer/importer and retailer. These laws were most likely written to protect the wholesaler and the retailer against powerful breweries, but the business, the market, the consumers' tastes have all changed, and the laws have unintentionally made the wholesalers powerful, perhaps too powerful.

There are such imbalances all through the alcohol laws. That's what my PLCB blog is all about: finding those problems, and exposing them.

Anonymous said...

Lew I have no problem with wholesalers, but do we really need two layers of them ?

Lew Bryson said...

Two layers? What do you mean? Brewers ship to the wholesaler, the wholesaler ships to the retailer. Where's the second layer?

Anonymous said...

and if we just let the market run its course rather than deciding arbitrarily who gets to sell what to where to whom , do you really thing the industry in this state would look remotely complex as it currently does?

Lew Bryson said...

if we just let the market run its course rather than deciding arbitrarily who gets to sell what to where to whom , do you really thing the industry in this state would look remotely complex as it currently does?

Well, first, I don't think it's that complex. Brewers sell to wholesalers, wholesalers sell to retailers, retailers sell to us. That's how it works in most industries. Where the complexity comes in, I suppose, is with the exclusivity, the granting of territories to wholesalers: 'you can sell this brand in these counties' kind of thing. There are exclusivity contracts in other industries as well, they're just enforced differently.

But these things aren't arbitrary. They're agreements reached between the wholesalers and the producers/importers. The real difference is that exclusivity is imposed by the State. That's common in the 50 states; not saying it's a good thing, but it's common. Getting out of such an exclusivity deal -- for a brewer -- is very hard in some states, and that's some of that problem I alluded to in my last comment.

If the market 'ran its course,' would it all look like it does now? I suspect that in many ways it would...but there would be fewer wholesalers, far fewer, which would make competition less of a factor. It would give an advantage to big brewers -- who could easily afford to drop-ship pallets of beer at major retailers -- and local brewers -- who could easily make contacts and deliveries to local accounts. I think you'd see a LOT less inter-state availability of small to medium-sized craft breweries.

But no one knows.