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Beer Distributors Urge Governor to Respect Existing Beer Market

April 30, 2014


Mark Tanczos, President of the Malt Beverage Distributors Association of Pennsylvania, the trade association that represents Pennsylvania’s private, independent beer distributors, today called on Governor Tom Corbett to “use your bully pulpit” to “reign in a misdirected legislative effort that has morphed out of your 2010 campaign promise”.

“The most recent discussion in the Senate was not really about state store privatization but primarily aimed at picking winners and losers among private independent businesses – our small, family-owned and operated beer distributors – with new provisions that would loosen beer sales laws designed to protect minors”, Tanczos said.  “The beer market is already a robust, competitive and convenient private enterprise marketplace with thousands of outlets.”

Governor Tom Corbett’s 2010 website shows he did not mention “consumer convenience” in his pledge late in the campaign: 

“As governor, I will present a plan for the privatization of the state liquor store system that helps to address the state’s need for additional funds, insures ongoing revenues and minimizes the impact on current workers,” said Corbett.  “Given the current economic climate in Pennsylvania, state government can no longer be in the liquor store business. We need to move our state out of the 19thcentury and refocus state government on its core functions and services for our residents.”  www.Tomcorbettforgovernor.com, October 19, 2010.

Read the Release from 2010 - TOM CORBETT SUPPORTS PRIVATIZATION OF STATE LIQUOR STORE SYSTEM

News reports confirmed this effort was only aimed at the state stores, an example of which is an article from WHYY Newsworks that compared the two gubernatorial candidate’s positions on the privatization issue and concluded, “both candidates oppose loosening Pennsylvania's restrictive beer sales laws.”  (Oct. 20, 2010)

As noted by Tanczos, “what is being proposed now in the Senate are plans that primarily impact we in the private sector, wholesale and retail beer sellers, while having little immediate impact on the state run liquor stores.  Every new plan has provisions that will destroy our small businesses by shifting the beer market to large corporate chains – stores which will reduce selection and the choices that consumers deserve,” he added.

“In addition to selection, we provide affordability, location and convenience in the purchase of a product that should be handled carefully under controlled access.  We employ thousands of Pennsylvanian’s with good paying salaries and benefits.  Distributors know if we lose our license, we lose our livelihood,” Tanczos said.

According to Tanczos, the State of Washington, facing a serious crisis because of alcohol thefts from recently licensed grocery stores, passed a new law effective in June constraining retailers selling alcoholic beverages.  “Because legislators saw there was increased access by minors and local grocery store managers told police that corporate officials were slow to react, these stores will be selling alcohol out of locked cabinets”, Tanczos said.  “Losses reported at $1,000 per week have caused grocery stores to go backwards when it comes to consumer convenience.  The law passed in just 80 days because of the crisis,” Tanczos said.

In Pennsylvania beer for home consumption  is sold by adult-oriented specialty retailers who cater to adults.  Beer to go is either sold by distributors or taverns, neither of which is an intended  destination for young people.  Tanczos added:  “Our laws have met the challenges caused by convenience stores selling beer.  These are very competitive but stable local markets with thousands of licensed retailers.  Customers know that distributors generally have a far better selection than their competitors with a restaurant license, whether it be a tavern or grocery store.”

Tanczos concluded, “From the outset, our request has simply been to have the General Assembly treat our licensees with respect and allow us to sell beer in smaller packages as requested by our customers.”

 
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