Legislation to enable sales of beer in supermarkets and convenience stores will result in reduced choice and convenience for consumers, the president of the Pennsylvania Malt Beverage Distributors Association (MBDA) said today.
“While lawmakers may be well-intentioned in their efforts they are, in reality, playing into the hands of large, big-box merchants who will reduce choice and convenience by driving thousands of locally-owned, small distributors, merchants and restaurants out of business,” said the MBDA’s David Shipula, owner of Beer Super in Wilkes-Barre.
“This legislation, as proposed by the big supermarket chains and the interstate convenience store corporations, would allow the big box guys to acquire existing restaurant licenses and convert them to a new class of license for food merchants,” Shipula explained. “In other words, each supermarket or convenience store to sell beer, they put a small restaurant out of business. I don’t think that’s what consumers had in mind when they signed the ‘free my beer’ petitions.”
History and economics, Shipula said, “dictates that when volume retailers with the ability to sell products bnelow cost as ‘loss leaders,’ small businesses are driven to close their doors. That means less choice, not more choice and convenience. Implementing this bill will have vast unintended consequences just like WalMart drove out most of the community-owned hardware stores.”
Shipula also noted that the petition with a reported 125,000 signatures did not include any specifics for reform of state beer laws. “All the Sheetz petitions request was, ‘I call upon my elected state representatives to update our archaic beer laws to reflect the will of the people.’” The MBDA president noted that a similar petition drive now underway at the check out counters of beer distributorships across the state already has netted 65,000 signatures supporting a very specific change in the state’s beer laws.
That petition, Shipula said, stated: “We, the undersigned, believe that beer distributors in Pennsylvania should, in the interest of convenience to customers, be allowed to sell beer by the six-pack. We believe that with more than 1,200 beer distributors across the commonwealth these changes in the law would bring more convenience to customers while helping to ensure that beer is kept out of the hands of minors.” “We urge our legislators to take action to help increase convenience for adults while protecting locally owned and locally operated small businesses.”