53 Comments

  1. Caroline crown
    May 1, 2020 @ 2:16 am

    This is directed to Jim. Plcb. Sucks. They closed down. Why? Social distant bull. Weis grocerery now has lines across there stores. Just to buy wine and they cant keep up. Hard to social distance there. That goes for every grocer around this area. Going to a state store is same as going to a. Food store but less people. better socially distants in wine and spirits.

    Reply

  2. Rita Crist
    May 1, 2020 @ 12:44 am

    It’s time to privatize and be done with the Pa state greed.

    Reply

  3. Lance Burrows
    April 30, 2020 @ 5:19 pm

    Meh, it’s a pandemic. The beer and wine should have been shut down as well. Your big red noses need a break.

    Reply

    • Lew Bryson
      May 9, 2020 @ 11:10 am

      Another Prohibitionist. You don’t get any say in this.

      Reply

  4. Kim Brown
    April 30, 2020 @ 4:57 pm

    That not the half of it the. PLCB has one signal phone line; they have employees using their personal cell phones. Crazy employees have to block their phones *67 so customers wouldn’t get their phone numbers. Some customers wouldn’t answer their phone because they would see private number come on their phone. Also, their aren’t not being compensate, for their efforts.

    Reply

  5. John Marx
    April 30, 2020 @ 4:23 pm

    I left PA decades ago. I’m now in Wisconsin where I can buy a pint of whisky at the gas station at 8:00 am on Sunday. We have serious problems with alcohol for sure, but no one thinks restricting access accomplishes much. Pennsylvania has a “follow the money” problem; why would it change when your monopoly is a huge cash cow.

    Reply

    • LEW BRYSON
      May 9, 2020 @ 11:13 am

      Ha! You’d THINK it was a huge cash cow. More like a huge bloated tick. The PLCB should be making a ton of money, with a monopoly on wine and spirits sales. But their operations are woefully inefficient, and they can’t open more than 600 stores in a state that should have thousands (by average with other states), because they’d be bankrupt.

      Reply

  6. Bill
    April 30, 2020 @ 3:32 pm

    I have lived in PA for 30 years. I no longer buy Any liquor for me or my extended family and friends. I shop in jersey, MA and Delaware. I buy in bulk. Obviously that’s frowned upon by the state but so is paying $25 dollars more for Johnny black. Screw you PA

    Reply

  7. alec therins
    April 30, 2020 @ 1:54 pm

    Hahahaha.. I love that the pic you used is the Sandy liquor store in Utah. We aren’t quite as bad as PA, but pretty close.

    Cheers!

    Reply

  8. Airmale
    April 30, 2020 @ 1:34 pm

    Farking Mint!!! I’ve been trying to explain this but get 1 sentence in and start cussing to much! Thanks for laying it out!

    Reply

  9. Mad Mick
    April 30, 2020 @ 11:59 am

    From NY, I was in PA for college (the ’70s). I was flabbergasted by the insane and archaic nanny rules. Yet for beer I could go to a drive through building and they would put it all in my car without getting out. And I understood then that the state lost money on selling booze. Any profit was from taxes that would be imposed whether or not the state sold the liquor, so it lost money on owning booze and made up for part of that loss with taxes they could collect in a private system. I couldn’t imagine then that such a STUPID system could survive. And yet here we are 40+ years later.
    I now live in CA where the liquor rules are about as loose as they could be and the state doesn’t own any liquor. You can buy beer, wine and liquor 24/7/365 in grocery stores, in liquor stores, in delis, warehouse clubs – wherever. Wineries can ship direct, breweries can self-distribute and sell as much as they want out the door, distilleries too.
    PA’s population is about 12 Mil. and you have 600 liquor stores and 1200 beer distributors (if the article is right). Los Angeles County is about 10 Mil people. LA County in 2014 had 3450 full liquor/beer/wine licensees and around 3000 beer/wine seller licencees all for carry out sales (restaurants etc have different licenses). I defy the nanny staters and the supporters of PA’s insane system that only benefits its employees after subsidies by the taxpayers, to show that: 1 – the state makes as much per capita on beverage sales in PA as in LA County (owning the liquor monopoly it should make much more); 2- that as many people are employed in the beverage industry in PA as in LA County; 3 – that there are any greater number of deaths/ serious injuries due to alcohol in LA County than in PA; or 4 that alcoholism in any larger problem in LA County than in PA. The price PA is paying to coddle public employees and employ failed electeds is ridiculous and that taxpayers haven’t thrown out the system is sad.

    Reply

  10. Jackie
    April 30, 2020 @ 9:01 am

    Lew,
    Thanks for the great article! You hit all the points that have been crossing my mind on this subject. I learned a few new things as well.
    I really haven’t heard much of these aspects from anyone and I was starting to think that I was crazy for thinking them. It was surprising for me to enter a local distillery on a Friday that had limited hours of business to find that I was the only one there. One good thing, is that I found a better place to buy my liquor locally in support of local business. Not to mention, it was fairly priced and way better quality in my opinion. I even tried something new and now I’m a fan of this place. When we’re back to the norm, I’ll be telling everyone to try it. Until then, I’m keeping it on the down low. I don’t want them to get wiped out before I go back. Ha ha!
    As you’ve proved, it goes much further than that so again thank you!

    Reply

  11. Joe Fling
    April 30, 2020 @ 6:32 am

    I ordered from the website a week ago. Two days after placing the order. I got an email that it shipped with UPS. Three days of “A label has been prepared”, it finally showed up in their system and was scheduled to be delivery. Then it was marked “Damaged” and apparently sent back to the warehouse. Despite three emails, I’ve heard nothing. What a clusterf*ck.

    Reply

  12. Jim
    April 29, 2020 @ 9:03 pm

    Oh, you poor baby. Heaven forbid you can’t get alcohol the instant you need, no WANT it.
    People are missing the ENTIRE point of the lockdown!
    There are 2 BASIC points:
    1) To minimize gatherings, and
    2) To minimize any travel, keeping outbreaks local.

    It’s NOT the LCBs fault that people traveled, it’s THEIR lack of self control. PUT THE BKAME WHERE IT SQUARELY BELONGS!!!

    That’s the ONLY reason the stay at home order was issued. Because stupid people like you wouldn’t control themselves and issue self restraint on their own.
    So, like having a 3 year old, the state had to mandate it and force you to do the right thing for everyone else’s safety.
    But, like a child, all you can think about is yourself.
    Thank YOU and the others that ‘had to have’ something for being one of the many stupid that helped exasperate the pandemic

    Reply

    • LEW BRYSON
      April 30, 2020 @ 12:31 pm

      Another neo-prohibitionist. This is the same cant the State Store unions trot out every time they screw something up.
      Tell me, Jim, from your position of wisdom: why didn’t they close the booze stores in every other state? Because that’s the real question. Your reaction could just as easily be applied to the toilet paper hoarding.

      Reply

    • James Sibert
      April 30, 2020 @ 2:02 pm

      I guess anyone that wants a cocktail is out of control according to you and Wolf is smarter than the rest of the governor’s. What about all the lost revenue?

      Reply

    • Joe Fling
      April 30, 2020 @ 3:51 pm

      Yeah, you kind of missed my point. I followed their requirements and placed an order in good faith. I’m paying $18.00 in shipping on an order that supposed to be free shipping. The order is god knows where and nobody is responding to my inquiries. I waited weeks to order until supplies are getting low. I don’t think I’m being “poor poor me”, I just want customer service. I’m about to start buying from local distillers, which probably means driving to their sites, which means less social distancing, which is an issue for me since I’m in several at-risk groups. I waited until my booze supplies were getting low, also waited longer because I couldn’t get into the site for days on end. So don’t tell me I couldn’t get liquor when I wanted it.

      Reply

    • Joe Fling
      April 30, 2020 @ 3:52 pm

      Also, I leave my house once a week to buy groceries, nothing else.

      Reply

    • Dawn
      April 30, 2020 @ 6:13 pm

      Wow i ll bet you are one of those self rightous bible thumping people that try to preach to people everyday its not about the virus its about PA control oh and by the way im religious but i dont down people that dont believe in what i believe in

      Reply

    • Mike
      May 1, 2020 @ 2:10 am

      Absolutely incorrect… this article is spot on … state liquor stores are not a site of “congregation” Tom Wolf is the child, making brazen rules that do not make sense,.. but, our Dem state votes him in, and now you see the lunacy .The state store’s actually have a good side, that of not only employing Pennsylvanians with pretty good benefits, but, they do keep underage drinking lower than other states . What Wolf did was erase $ 10 million in net state revenue from sales . We who are savvy, found many out of state mail order sites, right to the door… smooth move Tom. It was absolutely hypocrisy to keep wine and beer stores open like , uh hey this is ok right? Some of us are not beer and wine drinkers secondary to side effects like headaches, flushing etc. And guess what occurred at local hospitals??? While Covid went down, psych and alcohol withdrawal admissions skyrocketed . So, I disagree with your comments .

      Reply

    • Brewer
      May 1, 2020 @ 2:41 pm

      I’ve been able to consume alcohol without a party breaking out. Sorry that you can’t.

      Reply

  13. Kenneth Johnson
    April 29, 2020 @ 7:59 pm

    The bottom line is that the governor and Tim Hilden screwed up and capitulated to the union. Who is Tim Holden? He is the exceptionally ineffectual Congressman tossed from office who now runs the state stores. They made a mistake and are too “proud” to own up to it.

    Reply

  14. Trent
    April 29, 2020 @ 4:21 pm

    Utah has got PA beat in screwed up laws and controls at this point although PA is neck and neck in the race. Also Nevada closed all the liquor because if the casinos couldn’t be open then of course the liquor stores couldn’t be open, no breweries or any other alcohol producers. PA is not alone in the boat. Every state has it’s weird laws it’s just not PA, some are just a bit more strange than others however. Try dealing with each of them as a manufacture. It takes an army of people to keep all the changing rules straight and to be in compliance.

    Reply

    • Susan
      April 30, 2020 @ 7:36 pm

      Curious as to how many drunk driving wrecks there habeen since this began

      Reply

  15. Bobby
    April 29, 2020 @ 3:35 pm

    All I can say is DAMN what a screwed up state. Makes N.C. look downright hospitable. Come buy some of our great craft beer.
    Cheers.
    Bobby

    Reply

    • William McDonald
      April 29, 2020 @ 6:46 pm

      I agree 💯% with Wolf’s decision. Why ? try this scenario: the individual that’s just been furloughed knocks back a fifth of something to take the edge off the stay-at-home order today. The frustration and bordem becomes to much, so what’s wrong with taking it out on anyone in the vicinity (spouse kids neighbors etc) or getting behind the wheel of a vehicle to vent off the steam NOTHING? The inevitability of this disaster now involves law enforcement, first-responders or medical providers and use of scared resources in a time of GREATER NEEDS all to treat an IDIOT. Bottom-line the access to liquor is NOT AN ESSENTIAL SERVICE on any level.

      Reply

      • Lew Bryson
        April 29, 2020 @ 8:14 pm

        Nothing is stopping your fictional drunk from buying a case of beer or six bottles of wine. More to the point, there have not been widespread reports of this happening in other states.
        You just hate alcohol, and wish we could go back to Prohibition.
        Next crank, please?

      • George Felder
        April 29, 2020 @ 10:59 pm

        I thought Wolf may be right, too! BUT, have heard several govs (NJ for one!) state that they talked to MEDICAL Experts who told them REMOVAL of alcohol from addicted persons WOULD be worse than YOUR scenario!

      • Martyn Cornell
        April 30, 2020 @ 5:36 am

        ‘Treat adults like babies because one in 500,000 people might drink too much whiskey and possibly hurt someone” – do try to think harder about this stuff, William.

      • John G
        April 30, 2020 @ 6:57 am

        I disagree 💯% with Wolf’s decision. Why ? try this scenario: the individual that’s just been furloughed is an alcoholic and knocks back a fifth of something to take the edge at the end of each day. The frustration and withdrawal becomes too much, so what’s wrong with taking it out on anyone in the vicinity (spouse kids neighbors etc) or getting behind the wheel of a vehicle to vent off the steam NOTHING? The inevitability of this disaster now involves law enforcement, first-responders or medical providers and use of scared resources in a time of GREATER NEEDS all to treat an IDIOT. Bottom-line the access to liquor IS AN ESSENTIAL SERVICE on every level.

      • Karl
        April 30, 2020 @ 9:10 am

        YOU are the reason this old-school and archaic LCB is still allowed to operate. What an ignorant comment you make. How many other states are becoming badlands filled with alcholic, raged drivers because they allow their private liquor stores to operate? None. Sure – access to liquor is NOT an essential service, but the decision to lock it down and keep it a state-run forced people to go out of their way to stock up. Many people can be responsible drinking in their own homes. PA needs to get rid of this old thinking. Go find a convent.

      • Matt
        April 30, 2020 @ 10:31 am

        How long did it take to dream up this extreme hypothetical scenario? Where you abused as a child by a drunken father? I mean, this is the absolute worse case scenario I could ever imagine. Also, I guess wine or beer could not cause the same actions by this imaginary abusive father, as if he is so partial to liquor only, that he quits this behavior when it’s not available…..beer and wine are Simply unacceptable substitutes for this drunkard. LMAO

  16. Rich
    April 29, 2020 @ 3:28 pm

    Spot on commentary!

    I remember when I first moved to PA from NJ in 2002. It’s my first Sunday and NFL playoff time. A quick run to the liquor store for some game day beer! Yahoo! Not so fast! My excitement came crashing down when I remembered that PA had the most draconian liquor laws in the country and no beer could be sold on Sunday! A far worse financial impact than COVID-19? Could be! I can remember back in the sixties, when I was a young pup (that’s how you know I COULD remember!) in NJ and it was big news that NJ was allowing the sale of beer and wine on Sundays. Four decades BEFORE PA repealed the idiotic “case law”!

    I think the “case law” was an intentional discrimination against people too poor to have the money to actually buy a FULL case, so as to deny them the ability to have a well-earned beer after work! That, or the idiots in power figured a six-pack wasn’t enough. Go pound a case, THEN get behind the wheel! Idiots!

    Reply

    • Lew Bryson
      April 29, 2020 @ 4:27 pm

      Rich, the case law was “model legislation” suggested by beer wholesalers when Repeal hit in 1934. The case law was a dream law they had: every purchase has to be at least a case, less work for everyone in the supply chain, less expense (no six-pack or 8-pack holders, just cases with plain cardboard dividers), easy to stack in the store. Pennsylvania was the ONLY state to enact it. It’s so improbable that by the 1980s, no one in Harrisburg remembered, and they made ridiculous arguments to defend it. I just happened to know the guy who was the clerk to the lawyer the beer wholesalers had hired in 1933 to write the model legislation.

      Reply

      • James Borowski
        April 30, 2020 @ 2:37 pm

        Potholes, blue laws, liquor stores,
        Turnpike commission, (remember Howard Johnson’s)
        Ridicules taxes.
        I’m “ young” enough to remember
        Most All stores were closed on Sunday . Harrisburg, the puritans, Quakers and prohibition are gone,
        Get into the 21st century.

  17. Joel Normand
    April 29, 2020 @ 3:23 pm

    As a distillery owner I’m Erie, PA, I truly appreciate you mentioning us (the PA distilleries). I’ve read so many articles saying only how the PLCB is terrible, which it is, with no solutions to provide. Thank you!

    Reply

    • Lew Bryson
      April 29, 2020 @ 4:28 pm

      You’re welcome, Joel, and thanks for the note!
      The PLCB is pretty terrible for the consumer, but that part of the Liquor Code ain’t all bad for you guys!

      Reply

  18. John Sliter
    April 29, 2020 @ 3:11 pm

    Hey Lew – Thanks for the sad (yet hilarious) commentary. What about the dispensaries?
    Love, Essential Colorado

    Reply

    • LEW BRYSON
      April 29, 2020 @ 4:29 pm

      The medical dispensaries are still independent, but the state store clerks’ union desperately wants the PLCB to get control of recreational dispensaries if/when those occur. God forbid.

      Reply

  19. Snyder84
    April 29, 2020 @ 3:02 pm

    I’ve been under PLCB for over 16 years and you are misinformed about several things. First, the major warehouses delivery directly to all of the grocery stores, outlets, etc. Bars, restaurants etc. do go to local stores but they can also order delivery. The state police control the retail licensing. You can also get a resale license to buy and sell the bottles but there are restrictions on that. The stores followed retail closures as a safety measure. The employees are also part of a major union which protects their employees too. The curbside was overwhelmed because the state wasnt prepared to accommodate a retailer which was in more demand than grocery stores but they did their best to make sure no one ran out of booze. God forbid. I could keep going but I won’t waste anymore time justifying but I can say, read Audit reports on how much money gets returned to the state, municipalities, education… which if we sold, that money will no longer exist. I’m talking millions above millions.

    Reply

    • Al Brooks
      April 29, 2020 @ 4:17 pm

      I beg to differ on a number of points. First the State Police do not control retail licensing, the legislature set the amount of licenses. When the PLCB first started it was one per 1000 residents. It is now one per 3000 residents. The PLCB controls unused and returned licenses, the state police enforce liquor laws. Second, If the PLCB had ANYBODY that worked in the retail liquor industry instead of a Cabinet company CFO, the Governors personal political hack and a failed congressman on the board and nobody with industry experience in any of the Director’s positions and apparently nobody with a lick of sense – they would have know that opening up the on-line store to fill 1800 orders a day in a state of 13 million was not going to work. The next bright idea of calling a store that has one or maybe 2 land lines is already described above. Now there are 550 stores doing limited business in a state that was already short 2000 stores. Third. the PLCB collects taxes. Saying that is any sort of profit is like saying the Department of the Treasury makes a profit because they collect taxes. It ain’t true. The PLCB return unspent tax dollars that they call “profit” to the sate. I believe that was 196 million last year. However, if you look at their financial page it shows they have $1.5 BILLION in liabilities, so no it doesn’t actually make any money. License fees that it collects and returns to local communities would be collected by local communities. Taxes would be collected by the Department of Revenue, License fees would still be collected by the PLCB. If the state privatized and we had 2400 stores there would be more people working, more personal taxes collected. Business taxes collected that the PLCB doesn’t pay, Local taxes paid that the PLCB doesn’t pay, more sales due to greater convenience which mean more taxes collected and finally less border bleed as people won’t have to drive out of state to purchase something some cube rat in Harrisburg decided they didn’t need. I can keep going because I have read the audit reports and know exactly how incompetent the entire system is.

      Reply

    • LEW BRYSON
      April 29, 2020 @ 4:50 pm

      About delivery of orders, I’ll just say that what you’re telling me doesn’t jibe with what people at the grocery stores tell me, and leave it at that. And the licensees I asked about delivery just laughed. They all go and pick up, because delivery doesn’t happen. But again: you say what you think, I’m saying what I got from the other side.

      Now, you said: “You can also get a resale license to buy and sell the bottles but there are restrictions on that. The stores followed retail closures as a safety measure. The employees are also part of a major union which protects their employees too. The curbside was overwhelmed because the state wasnt prepared to accommodate a retailer which was in more demand than grocery stores but they did their best to make sure no one ran out of booze. God forbid.”

      Licensees can get a Wine Expanded Permit to sell full bottles — why? Because the PLCB wants to stifle competition to their monopoly — but yes, there are restrictions on it, restrictions that aren’t on the State Stores, because they can’t stand the competition, because they suck. Oh, and also, it’s a WINE Expanded Permit, because the PLCB will not give up the liquor monopoly, because they know if they did, no one would have any real reason to go to the State Stores anymore. The stores closed for safety measures? Answer the implied question: why didn’t the governor close beer distributors for “safety reasons”? Why didn’t the governor close wine sales at grocery stores for “safety reasons”? Because screw them? BTW, a lot of the grocery store workers who are selling wine and beer are represented by the same major union.

      About your “curbside was overwhelmed” whining…that’s all it is. Whining. The ONLY liquor stores I heard of that were overwhelmed outside of PA were the ones JUST outside of PA, where we all ran to get booze because the State Stores closed. The ones not on the border did fine, and the border stores in NJ, NY, and Maryland are just fine now. (Er…I hear they are. A friend told me.) Are you really trying to say that Pennsylvanians drink more than in other states? God forbid.

      Albert already dispensed with your fairy tale about the PLCB being a huge source of cash for the state, so I won’t pile on.

      You’re a PLCB employee, so I get that you’re trying to save your job. I really do understand that. But you know…3,000 jobs, right now? It’s a drop in the bucket. The hospitality industry has lost 20 times that many jobs in PA alone, breweries and distilleries are going to fail, restaurants, meat packers, farms are going to fail. It’s a hard time.

      And you know…when privatization goes through, jobs in the sector INCREASE. Jobs in booze retail in Washington State tripled, and that’s even though Washington State completely screwed up privatization by piling on new taxes, and creating weird incentives for larger stores. We can do it right. I’ve proposed zero-interest loans for any laid-off PLCB employee to open their own liquor store (I have, I’m on record, years ago). You could run things. And everyone would be better off.

      Reply

  20. John
    April 29, 2020 @ 2:56 pm

    Your assessment of the liquor laws and the handling of the sale of alcohol is spot on. I agree wholeheartedly

    Reply

  21. Karol Pasquinelli
    April 29, 2020 @ 2:23 pm

    You forgot you have to show your Driver‘s License to buy a six-pack at the grocery store, while the PLCB store will sell a case of anything with no ID. The paid advertising is the hardest to explain. If you have a monopoly, why advertise unless you want people to drink more? That kind of voids the argument that they are protecting us.

    Reply

  22. BB
    April 29, 2020 @ 2:10 pm

    Utah has the worst liquor laws, PA. is a close second.

    Reply

  23. Barbara Stauch
    April 29, 2020 @ 1:13 pm

    Just open the liquor stores !

    Reply

    • LEW BRYSON
      April 29, 2020 @ 4:30 pm

      Just let the supermarkets sell liquor too!

      Reply

  24. Tom
    April 29, 2020 @ 12:57 pm

    That is So Right On. And remember we can buy wine and beer at 8 or 9am in a supermarket- but on Sunday the liquor stores open at 11. They’re closed most holidays also.
    Tom
    Lower Macungie TWP

    Reply

  25. Chris reinhart
    April 29, 2020 @ 11:38 am

    I totally agree!

    Reply

  26. AJ Doyle
    April 29, 2020 @ 11:26 am

    I could not agree more with you! I am running for State Representative in the 36th Legislative District of PA. One of the first pieces of legislation, if not the first that I would introduce as Representative would be to get the State out of the business of selling liquor!

    Reply

    • LEW BRYSON
      April 29, 2020 @ 4:52 pm

      Good to hear! Good luck on an uphill election campaign!

      Reply

  27. Chris
    April 29, 2020 @ 10:32 am

    I’ve made a point of stopping by our local distillery to help keep them in business. Happily, they’ve been crushed, and are out of a lot, and are selling as fast as they can bottle. I’ve certainly become a quality over price and local buyer.

    Reply

  28. Al Brooks
    April 29, 2020 @ 9:46 am

    Your expieiance in curbside pickup is a bit different then mine. I called multiple times…maybe 40-50. Gave them my info and what I wanted to order and they said they would call me back with the total and to get my credit card number. After about 5 hours they did that and then said they would call yet again when the order was ready. If you were expecting same day you were wrong. After waiting a day I got my pickup call and went to the door, gave them my credit card and ID so they knew I wasn’t a minor who didn’t have anything better to do (I’m well over 50). The door cracked open to give me my cards back and to ask what car was mine so when they came out they knew where to go. Since I only ordered 2 bottles I asked why can’t you just give it to me now? It wasn’t ready was the answer meaning they had to put it into the bag. So foff to my car I went and 2-3 minutes later out came the delivery person and asked me if I wanted it put in the trunk. I said no I’ll drink it here and got such a look as if every story about only alcoholics go to liquor stores ( a favorite saying among the liquor store union) was true and I was the living breathing example. Overall I’d put it right behind going to the dentist only it took longer in total.

    Reply

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