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Rube Goldberg?
June 24, 2010 5:46 AM   Subscribe

Wine kiosks open for business in PA. Some folks think it's a dumb idea.

Check out the HAL 9000 camera.
posted by fixedgear (128 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Without delving too deepy into the politics of wine in supermarkets (I am against it)

Well hey, fuck you, John. PA's alcohol-selling system is an abomination before the Lord, and anything that makes it easier for grown-ass adults to get a bottle at the same time they're picking up some romaine is peachy, as far as I'm concerned. That the machines are hilariously wacky is just gravy!
posted by Greg Nog at 5:55 AM on June 24, 2010 [18 favorites]


I saw something like this in Venice, but it was from a barrel. Bring your bottle in, fill it up, get corked, pay. Seemed sensible to me and the wine was very okay for the price.
posted by The Whelk at 5:55 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Rube Goldberg, wine, and HAL9000? Oh how you've piqued my curiousity...
posted by Theta States at 6:01 AM on June 24, 2010


For those of you who have never tried to buy beer or wine in PA, here's a rundown of their alcohol laws. To buy beer, you have to either buy a six pack from a bar or restaurant or buy a case from a beer distributor.

Also, the "dumb" link looks like it's a press release from the union representing state liquor store managers ("The vending machine was developed and financed by political cronies of Governor Rendell with contribution connections"). I'm not saying wine kiosks are a good idea, but those state-run liquor stores are really depressing.
posted by Drab_Parts at 6:06 AM on June 24, 2010


I saw something like this in Venice....

And look what God is doing to Venice: sinking it beneath the waves.

I can only imagine the destruction when PA swallowed up by the Atlantic. Somehow.
posted by DU at 6:06 AM on June 24, 2010


I'm with Greg. Say you lived in Pennsylvania and wanted to get some bread and cheese, some wine, and a bottle of nice stout beer. You'd have to go to three different stores. Humbug.

The only good thing about it, I suppose, is that it generates a shit-ton of tax revenue for the state. SOCIAMALISM!!!
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:07 AM on June 24, 2010


I swear, if Pennsylvania could bring back Prohibition, it would. Keep watching the video clip for the mandatory breathalyzer test before the purchase completes.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:09 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, pretty much anything would be an improvement to the alcohol buying situation in PA.
posted by Pax at 6:10 AM on June 24, 2010


Ha, the breathalyzer is hilarious.
posted by amro at 6:11 AM on June 24, 2010


It's the Tairy Greene Machine!
posted by The White Hat at 6:12 AM on June 24, 2010


The breath test is hilarious, as is the entire idea that we can't just sell wine in grocery stores like most other places on the planet. They let Wegmans do beer already, selling wine is no different in reality.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:13 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Keep watching the video clip for the mandatory breathalyzer test before the purchase completes.

Holy shit, I thought you were kidding. I'm surprised the machine doesn't also berate you for drinking the devil juice.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:14 AM on June 24, 2010


From the wikipedia page Drab_Parts linked to: "A person is only allowed to purchase 194 ounces of beer at a time in this manner. If you take the 194 ounces to your vehicle and re-enter the business, you can buy 194 more ounces, and continue doing so so long as you only take out 194 ounces of beer from the store at a time."

They omit that you must change your disguise each time you re-enter the store.
posted by punchtothehead at 6:14 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Check out those edits. I'm pretty sure it only reads mag stripe info from PA driver's licenses, so if you are from out of state, tough luck. I can't find the photoshopped picture of a kid holding a sign that says 'I'll take your breath test $5.00.'
posted by fixedgear at 6:15 AM on June 24, 2010


The machine has a person-- presumably inside it, like Kenny Baker in R2-D2-- that checks to ensure that the ID and the purchaser match. What's the advantage over an employee again?

Also, I've spent most of my life in Minnesota and Oklahoma, and never before today did I realize that there is another state with as many completely counterintuitive and idiotic liquor laws. In fact, Pennsylvania may have EVEN MORE idiotic liquor laws. So, uh, way to go or something.
posted by norm at 6:15 AM on June 24, 2010


Wegmans is fascinating. Alec Baldwin's mom Carol loves it. Seems like it's always trying out new things.

I live near the flagship store. It's huge and has pretty much everything but wine and spirits. Wegmans has been fighting hard to get laws changed to permit vending of wine in grocery stores. Needless to say, liquor store owners have been fighting back.

Given Pennsylvania's general weirdness (hey, I grew up there so I can say that) regarding alcohol I'd say this "Rube Goldberg" thing (misuse of term, I think, since one action does not in fact precipitate another) is actually an improvement, even with all its technological encumbrance. Wouldn't fly up here, though. Easier to just stop at the liquor store.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:15 AM on June 24, 2010


this "Rube Goldberg" thing (misuse of term, I think, since one action does not in fact precipitate another)

Yeah, it would be more fun if the whole thing was made of clear plexiglass, and you could see a little lawn-gnome pushing a bottle down an assembly-line or something. The actual device is actually more understated than I thought it'd be. Nevertheless, I don't think that'd stop me from humming the Pee-Wee's Big Adventure breakfast-machine song while using this.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:21 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


What is the history behind treating beer differently than wine and liquor? Same thing in Connecticut, where grocery stores can sell beer but not the others. Just the lower alcohol content makes it "safer"?
posted by smackfu at 6:22 AM on June 24, 2010


I actually made the mistake of trying to buy beer in PA once. We were camping on the Delaware River in NY, but came through PA to get to the campground. We were passing what we figured would be the last of civilization, and so we stopped for some beer. Of course we were on the "wrong" side of the river and had to make three separate transactions to get the beer and snacks we were trying to buy. What nonsense.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:23 AM on June 24, 2010


I live near the flagship store. It's huge and has pretty much everything but wine and spirits. Wegmans has been fighting hard to get laws changed to permit vending of wine in grocery stores. Needless to say, liquor store owners have been fighting back.

My local Wegmans has plenty of wine and beer. But we do have to buy liquor from the gubmint.
posted by candyland at 6:23 AM on June 24, 2010


Oh, we also bought a pint of Jim Beam from a "liquor store" in NY while we were camping up there. I put it in quotes because it was actually some guy's garage or possibly toolshed. We rang the doorbell, he came out of the house, walked into the garage, and unlocked the front door for us. Which, I guess, is a little bit like the wine machine, only with less automation and more mountain man.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:27 AM on June 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


The machine has a person-- presumably inside it, like Kenny Baker in R2-D2-- that checks to ensure that the ID and the purchaser match. What's the advantage over an employee again?

I don't think he's inside it... I think he's at an office somewhere monitoring the transactions (and looking at the buyers on a monitor) for all (only two at this point, I think) of the kiosks. So in that way, it does cut way down on the number of employees needed.
posted by amro at 6:27 AM on June 24, 2010


And I thought Ohio was semi-backassward! Wow, way to go, Pennsylvania!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:29 AM on June 24, 2010


One of the petty grievances in my normally tranquil life is the ABC stores. I hate them. I lived for 42 years in a state without ABCs and it really enrages me that there is a board that determines what brands I can buy and for for how much and when-- the government stores are closed on Sundays and holidays.

Admittedly the ABCs don't sell beer and wine here in NC, but you can't buy any alcohol before 7 a.m. M-Sat, and 12 p.m. Sundays. Why do I know this? Because my husband works nights and can't buy beer on his way home. Also I shop at the Farmer's Market on Sunday mornings and can't buy local wine if I get there before the church-goers show up.

I despise drunk drivers not only because they put us all in danger, but because they give the State ammunition to treat us all like children.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:31 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Add craft beer to the machine, and I'm thoroughly excited by the concept, as I hate having to go to the liquor store as well as the grocery store. But wait, this is PA, where alcohol is borderline contraband. So malt beverages via the same machine as wine would be ridiculous.

I'm in NJ, so I think they could pull it off, but oh well.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:39 AM on June 24, 2010


I love that he's buying wine that will go with pierogies and kielbasa.
posted by octothorpe at 6:43 AM on June 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


To buy beer, you have to either buy a six pack from a bar or restaurant or buy a case from a beer distributor.

I'm trying to wrap my head around that; what is the logic behind that law and what do they have against poor people? Is the price of a six-pack from a bar jacked up to bar prices or is it comparable to a discount grocery store? And a case? Are they crazy? This is so counter intuitive to decreasing the amount of alcohol consumed that I can only assume they figured fewer people would be able to come up with the price for a full case than could find the money for a single bottle.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:50 AM on June 24, 2010


A few years ago, Colorado tried and failed to pass a law allowing the sale of beer and wine in grocery stores. Most of the opposition came from liquor store owners, who would lose most of their business without the supermarket ban. So not all the opposition is puritan-based any more.

Their one argument that had any sway with me was the threat that these new liquor laws would endanger some of the specialty wine and beer stores, and it would be harder to find anything but the mass-distributed labels. While I don't know how likely such a scenario would be, I would hate to lose stores run by knowledgeable and curious owners who make it their mission to have an ever-changing, eclectic collection, in favor of an easily-accessible supermarket aisle.

But then, unlike Pennsylvania, every grocery store has a liquor store right next to it, so it's not exactly a hardship to get my drunk on find the perfect wine to pair with my cooking.
posted by bibliowench at 6:50 AM on June 24, 2010


I know this sounds crazy, but in California, wine is made from grapes, not machines with men inside. There are acres and acres of grapes, and sometimes you can purchase wine at that very grape-growing location, or you can just tank up on samples of a variety of wines in these wine shops. And alcohol of all sorts is sold on the shelves of common stores, and even at gas stations, as if it were nothing more fanciful than milk. Sure, a hu-man must check your ID, but that's a casual enough experience.

Are the brains of long-dead puritans prohibitionists kept on display in other states, reminding people of a better time when alcohol was the work of tiny demons intent on leading god-fearing men and women astray? The Prohibition in the US ended 77 years ago, and the period was only 13 years (though other states had banned alcohol before 1920). A child could have grown up and been old enough to drink before the Prohibition was over.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:57 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I couldn't link to the site (too busy) but let me tell you, after living in Pittsburgh, I can appreciate a wine kiosk.

To buy wine or liquor in PA, you have to go to a State Store. They SUCK! They're not open on Sunday, and it's expensive. Not only that the selection is abysmal. Crap wine, cheap liquor.

At least I had the option of driving to WV to buy what I needed at Kroger.

Just to stock a party you have to go to a beer distributor, you drive into a quanset hut, where you give the guy the money and he loads your Iron City into the trunk of your car. Unless you feel like buying multiple cases, you have to take 24 of whatever. So if you want to offer a choice of beer, too bad!

If you buy a 6-pack at a bar, you're paying bar prices for your brew.

Count me in!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:59 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


So not all the opposition is puritan-based any more.

That is what is so crazy about the "Some folks think it's a dumb idea" link to the ISSU press release. They completely demonise alcohol - America's number drug - whilst simultaneously seeking to maintain their monopoly on selling that drug!
posted by ninebelow at 6:59 AM on June 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Pennsylvania liquor laws have always been entertaining. In the past 15 years or so things have actually gotten better. It used to be that the guy in charge of choosing what wine and liquor brands were purchased to go in the state stores wasn't interested in good stuff. Now you can actually get good wine. I remember growing up that my grandmother would rail about the limited brands of bourbon that she could get in central PA.

You can get beer in six packs at convenience stores in addition to the other places people have mentioned.

I grew up in MA where until recently you couldn't get alcohol on Sundays (except in bars) or in supermarkets or convenience stores. Moved to CT for college and there you couldn't get alcohol on Sundays or after 8pm any day of the week. You'd be in line at the supermarket with a six pack of beer and if it hit 8pm before you got to the head of the line, you couldn't buy it. The register was set up so it wouldn't ring it up. They had curtains that would cover the section of beer too.

Moving to California was a huge revelation: the supermarket had wine, liquor and beer and it had a good selection of wine.
posted by sciencegeek at 7:00 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


This explains why every road crossing the PA/NJ border is crowded with liquor stores on the Jersey side. It's easier to register a car in Massachusetts than buy wine in Pennsylvania.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:00 AM on June 24, 2010


Add craft beer to the machine, and I'm thoroughly excited by the concept

You can already get craft beer from PA Wegmans. You buy it from an employee at a cash register, which is what makes it so bizarre the wine has to go in a machine.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:01 AM on June 24, 2010


I love Wegmans. Truly, truly love Wegmans. There has been a deep, wide, black pit in the center of my soul since I left central PA now that I can no longer shop there.

I really don't have anything to add to this thread other than that.
posted by slogger at 7:05 AM on June 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Just read an interesting book that had quite a bit on America's strange attitudes about alcohol. Mix that with religious fervor (well-meaning or otherwise) and you get some weird laws.

I moved to PA as a kid in the mid-70s. Part of my dad's county job was to enforce the "blue laws." I think that now you just can't sell alcohol on Sundays but at the time you couldn't sell anything except necessities (milk, bread, diapers, and baby food). Separation of church and state, anyone?
posted by JoanArkham at 7:06 AM on June 24, 2010


Even the State stores are open on Sunday now, only 12-5 here though which is just lame.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:08 AM on June 24, 2010


I live in NJ, and our Wegmans are truly awesome indeed. They have a liquor store, unlike every other grocery store in the state, and they have an entire room devoted to (mostly craft) beer. Yum!
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:10 AM on June 24, 2010


I fail to understand how prohibition of alcohol sales on Sunday in any state is anything other than a violation of separation of church and state. I often think the only reason the laws are on the books are because no politician wants to be the one who violated the sanctity of the Christian holy day - too much ammunition there for potential opponents in the next election.

As for sales in supermarkets, well, I lived in Michigan for a long time, and was happy that I could pick up groceries, beer, liquor and wine at the same store. I can see the appeal. However now that I live in Minnesota I can also see the downside: One full aisle or more of retail space in your local supermarket fully devoted to high-profit, high-volume sales means a LOT of the specialty items are simply not going to be stocked. Every time I go to the store I wonder what would be cut if the state allowed alcohol sales in grocery stores.

Liquor stores have another advantage as well - at least the privately-owned ones - fantastic selection. I can find more varieties of beer, wine and liquor at the local shops than you'd ever find in a supermarket. Last time I was in Texas for example, the beer aisle was fully 2/3rds Bud Light. It was just downright sickening. A veritable wall of blue boxes of mass-produced shitty beer. If you looked for a minute you could find something other than Bud Light - perhaps 1/4th of the remaining retail space was some other major mass-produced swill. The single display case left over had a mishmash of "import" brands, some of which were tolerable but there was nothing I'd actually get excited about drinking.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:11 AM on June 24, 2010


It's a rite of passage for people who move to PA to wander around the supermarket looking for wine. if you ask a clerk he/she will look at you like you' re nuts.
posted by octothorpe at 7:12 AM on June 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


For a country that's supposedly founded on the idea of individual liberty, the US has some pretty whacky ideas about alcohol.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:12 AM on June 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Secret Life of Gravy asked: "what is the logic behind that law and what do they have against poor people? Is the price of a six-pack from a bar jacked up to bar prices or is it comparable to a discount grocery store? And a case? Are they crazy? This is so counter intuitive to decreasing the amount of alcohol consumed that I can only assume they figured fewer people would be able to come up with the price for a full case than could find the money for a single bottle."

There is no logic that I can see. A six-pack from a bar can cost anywhere from $8 to...I paid $19 once. Ha. Fun times. I'd say $12-15 is more typical. I've paid anywhere from $18 to $40ish for a case, which I think is reasonable. But that could just be the Stockholm Syndrome kicking in.

It's really frustrating. I'd like to have some beer, but I don't want (or have the room for) an entire case. So my options are buying four times as much beer as I want, or shelling out a lot of cash. Growlers are kind of an option, but that forces me to drink it within a certain time period (oh, poor poor me.)

I'm not sure how it is in the rest of the state, but around Pittsburgh there are a very few state stores that are open between 12 and 5. They started this up within the past 2 or 3 years, and I remember people freaking out about that.
posted by punchtothehead at 7:16 AM on June 24, 2010


the US has some pretty whacky ideas about alcohol.

The people scared of federal power never seem to be scared of state power, thus crazy state laws.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:17 AM on June 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


the beer aisle was fully 2/3rds Bud Light [...] perhaps 1/4th of the remaining retail space was some other major mass-produced swill. The single display case left over had a mishmash of "import" brands [...] nothing I'd actually get excited about drinking.

Beer Wars goes into a bit of detail about this situation. In many cases, the beer distributor (that is, the guy who brings the wall of Bud Light to the store) is in charge of designing the beer display for the supermarket (since he has "better" feel for the market than the managers do).

As a result, you wind up with AB creating more and more SKUs for Bud Light (6-pack cans and bottles; 12-pack cans and bottles; 18-pack cans and bottles; 6-pack tallboys; 30-pack cans; and so on), so that their products take up half or more of the visible display space. The rest is taken up by other brands that they own or distribute. You're lucky to get a few linear feet for anything local or interesting. It's incredible.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:17 AM on June 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Their one argument that had any sway with me was the threat that these new liquor laws would endanger some of the specialty wine and beer stores, and it would be harder to find anything but the mass-distributed labels. While I don't know how likely such a scenario would be, I would hate to lose stores run by knowledgeable and curious owners who make it their mission to have an ever-changing, eclectic collection, in favor of an easily-accessible supermarket aisle.

Grocery stores in Georgia can sell wine and beer, and every grocery store still has a liquor store next to it. And there's no shortage of good liquor stores operated by people who really know their stuff, either. So here, at least, allowing alcohol sales in grocery stores hasn't run the specialty shops out of business.
posted by magnificent frigatebird at 7:18 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've always wondered how people in a country where "socialist" is a slur justify having alcohol retail controlled by a government monopoly.
posted by atrazine at 7:19 AM on June 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


I live in NJ, and our Wegmans are truly awesome indeed. They have a liquor store, unlike every other grocery store in the state, and they have an entire room devoted to (mostly craft) beer. Yum!

The laws in NJ must have changed recently. It used to be that you couldn't buy alcohol in supermarkets here, but recently that Wegman's with the attached liquor store has started selling alcohol in the supermarket itself, and a nearby Trader Joe's has started carrying alcohol (Two Buck Chuck! Woohoo!). And the Wegman's in South Jersey near where I work has just added a liquor store. Times they are a'changing.
posted by amro at 7:20 AM on June 24, 2010


I went to college in PA and everyone bitched about buying booze, but I'm from Montgomery County, MD and so I'm used to be treated like a goddamn criminal when buying alcohol.
posted by sperose at 7:23 AM on June 24, 2010


You can already get craft beer from PA Wegmans. You buy it from an employee at a cash register, which is what makes it so bizarre the wine has to go in a machine.

When I went to visit my brother in State College, we went to a Wegman's with beer. I bought a few 750ml bottles. I got carded, which is fine, but then the cashier asked me if I would like a bag. I said yes. She gave me the bag and told me that she was not allowed to put the bottles in the bag. I didn't ask why, but I understand it to be that it was sold for theoretical consumption on premises but that they couldn't stop me from leaving.

In Philly I can think of maybe a half dozen places to buy a single bottle of craft beer, and there are plenty of places with deli licenses where you can get a can of St Ides.

We need a complete overhaul of the PA LCB. From unregistered beers to putting a wine shop in a Garces restaurant with no competition to this farce, it never ends.
posted by fixedgear at 7:25 AM on June 24, 2010


I remember that Connecticut law - we stopped to camp in CT after driving down from Vermont once and lo, it was after 8:00, so no beer for us. The waitress in the pizza joint we stopped at for dinner was nice enough to let us buy beers and fill our water bottles up before we went back to the campground. I thought that was insane and I'm from South Carolina, where they used to literally chain up the beer section in all the stores - big honking chains with padlocks, roped between the handles - at the stroke of midnight Saturday night, not to be unlocked until 6 am Monday morning.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:34 AM on June 24, 2010


For a country that's supposedly founded on the idea of individual liberty, the US has some pretty whacky ideas about alcohol.

OTOH, the US was initially settled on the idea of having enough religious freedom to be as puritan as you wish. So the alcohol bits are right in line with that.
posted by smackfu at 7:35 AM on June 24, 2010


I fail to understand how prohibition of alcohol sales on Sunday in any state is anything other than a violation of separation of church and state.

The relevant Supreme Court case is McGowan v. Maryland.
posted by smackfu at 7:43 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I want to do this just to do it. Fortunately, I live in PA! Unfortunately the closest Wegman's is out in the wilds somewhere.
posted by Mister_A at 7:46 AM on June 24, 2010


I saw something like this in Venice, but it was from a barrel. Bring your bottle in, fill it up, get corked, pay. Seemed sensible to me and the wine was very okay for the price.

Yeah, this would be great. I always love to cut down on unnecessary packaging. But these machines seems overly complicated/expensive/pointless.

Just pay somebody $10/hour or whatever to pour wine. Duh. Make it an old guy/gal with no driver's license so they can get wasted while they do it.

What is the history behind treating beer differently than wine and liquor?

History or rationale? The history is long and complicated. The rationale is non-existent.

I couldn't link to the site (too busy) but let me tell you, after living in Pittsburgh, I can appreciate a wine kiosk.

Hm. It seems like lots of Pennsylvanians would take any solution over the current situation. Why not just fix the bad laws?

For a country that's supposedly founded on the idea of individual liberty, the US has some pretty whacky ideas about alcohol.
posted by mrgrimm at 7:54 AM on June 24, 2010


The PA state stores are actually much better than they were when I first moved to the commonwealth in the early eighties. Back then they were all little store front shops with a counter running the whole width about eight feet beyond the door like it was a dry cleaning shop. No liquor or wine was visible to customers. What you had to do was walk in and browse through a catalog on the counter that had all of the PA-LCB offerings for the state stores. Each and every state store had the exact same selection; if it wasn't in that quarterly printed catalog, you couldn't buy it. Once you made your selection, you wrote down the catalog number and gave it to the clerk who went into the back storage and found your bottle. He'd bring it out and ring it up for you. It all felt very Soviet.

At least by then you could use your driver's license as ID. I've been told that before the eighties, you had to get a special LCB identification card which was the only thing that state stores would accept.
posted by octothorpe at 8:04 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I live in TX, which has some wacky booze laws. One day, I crossed the border into New Mexico, and found a liquor store open at 4 a.m. selling bottles of hard liquor.

It is truly the promised land. Truly.
posted by From the Fortress at 8:07 AM on June 24, 2010


(pretty sure you can also buy bottles at gas stations there, too)
posted by From the Fortress at 8:08 AM on June 24, 2010


Hm. It seems like lots of Pennsylvanians would take any solution over the current situation. Why not just fix the bad laws?

Lots of people living in Pittsburgh and Philly would like to change things but the state of PA is ruled by a lot of no-nothing legislators from the middle of the state who are against anything those liberals in the cities want.
posted by octothorpe at 8:11 AM on June 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Dang, and I thought the Minnesota blue laws were obnoxious and inconvenient. It's possibly a sign of a personal problem, how many times in the six months I've lived here that I've realized we're out of booze on a Sunday afternoon and there's fuck-all I can do about it short of drive to Wisconsin.

(when I lived in California the neighborhood Safeway had a sommelier!)
posted by padraigin at 8:13 AM on June 24, 2010


I wonder if opening on Sunday would be a net gain for liquor stores. People currently adjust their buying to other days, so they would really only be gaining "emergency" purchases, and in exchange they would have to be open all day paying staff.

I guess the alcoholics buying a fifth of vodka at midday would appreciate it though.
posted by smackfu at 8:25 AM on June 24, 2010


The relevant Supreme Court case is McGowan v. Maryland.

From that WP link:

In reaching their conclusion, the Court also examined the wider question of whether laws proscribing or limiting Sunday trading were constitutional. They held that such laws did not violate the division between church and state, because - no matter the historical roots of such laws - the laws existed as constituted in order to fulfill a secular objective. In other words, even if Sunday trading laws were originally intended to facilitate and encourage church attendance in the colonial United States, the laws as presently constituted were intended to improve the "health, safety, recreation, and general well-being" of citizens. The present purpose of the laws is to provide a uniform day of rest for all


From the Justia synopsis:

Appellants, employees of a large department store on a highway in Anne Arundel County, Md., were convicted and fined in a Maryland State Court for selling on Sunday a loose-leaf binder, a can of floor wax, a stapler, staples and a toy, in violation of Md.Ann.Code, Art. 27, § 521, which generally prohibits the sale on Sunday of all merchandise except the retail sale of tobacco products, confectioneries, milk, bread, fruit, gasoline, oils, greases, drugs, medicines, newspapers and periodicals. Recent amendments now except from the prohibition the retail sale in Anne Arundel County of all foodstuffs, automobile and boating accessories, flowers, toilet goods, hospital supplies and souvenirs, and exempt entirely any retail establishment in that County which employs not more than one person other than the owner.


"Even if you don't worship our God, you can still 'rest' with us on Sunday mornings. ... No, I insist ... (Unless you sell flowers, because I like to buy those on Sunday mornings. Or boating accessories, because I like to take my yacht out on Sundays ... or tobacco because, hey, c'mon, that shit's addictive ...)"

S H E N A N I G A N S
posted by mrgrimm at 8:32 AM on June 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


Check out the HAL 9000 camera

"Give me a Pinot Noir, HAL."

"I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that."
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 8:36 AM on June 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


** Looks at next state over**

Oh my god.


It's full of bars.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:41 AM on June 24, 2010 [9 favorites]


Holy crap, the things adults have to do in other states for a drink. It makes me grateful to live in California, where I can buy decent wine at our corner store, or walk ten minutes to buy better wine at whole Foods, or ride my bike for 10 minutes to a local tasting room and buy great wine there. Is there really such a big payoff from the state stores that money would be lost if they just taxed regular liquor sales?
posted by oneirodynia at 8:41 AM on June 24, 2010


It's stories like this that remind me why I love living in New Orleans. We don't have "liquor stores" that specifically stock alcohol. Apparently if you have four walls and a roof you can sell liquor, beer, and wine, or at least that's how it seems - certainly every gas station and corner store has a grand selection. The wine sections of our major grocery stores are growing to the point that they take up almost the same square footage as the whole produce department.

Even if every retail store was closed, we live in one of the few cities in the US with no legally mandated last call time meaning you can always find a bar ready to serve you.

The idea that a wine retailer (as quoted in the idea link) would be against grocery stores selling wine is so foreign to me that my brain is bordering on meltdown. The people here who specifically retail wine are worried about competition, sure, but I think everyone agrees that the more chance people have to buy and enjoy wine the better it is for the industry in general. The gentleman quoted in the story is trying to pass off his fear that his shop will go out of business under the guise of 'protecting' the consumer from 'bad wine'. Bah. The Rouse's near my house has a selection that's 85% as good as any of the fine wine shops in the area. The idea that consumers won't be able to find good wine in grocery stores is laughable.

Personally, I think the kiosk itself is a ridiculous idea, but that's because I'm faced with wine at all sides when I go to the grocery store, all waiting for me in pre-packaged ready-to-grab glass bottles. The kiosk is just one unnecessary step between me and drunkenjoyment of a nice bottle with my dinner.
posted by komara at 8:59 AM on June 24, 2010


"Give me a Pinot Noir, HAL."
"I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that."


HAL won't settle for less than a Cab Franc. He's stern but fair.
posted by Theta States at 9:00 AM on June 24, 2010


Is there really such a big payoff from the state stores that money would be lost if they just taxed regular liquor sales?

I imagine the wine lobby is quite powerful in California.
posted by smackfu at 9:01 AM on June 24, 2010


Uhg. Living in PA and having to deal with the outdated/stupid laws is not fun.

Sheetz is also pushing to “Free My Beer” in its stores. I don’t normally support “Big” Anything, but if Big Chili Dogs and Gas can get me a decent selection of beer I can pick up quickly when I need it, I am happy. I wish there was a Wegmans closer to where I lived.

As punchtothehead mentioned, I’ve seen six packs go from $7 - $20. One thing that is also annoying is almost every place that sells these expensive six packs, only has the normal run of the mill beer. You will find Bud, Miller, Coors, Yuengling (thank God), some 40s of Colt 45 and Olde English in most places. If you do find the rare place with a decent selection, better get out your wallet. I paid $19 for a sixer of Golden Monkey the other day. Funny thing, this place also cuts full cases of Natural Ice in half and then uses clear packing tape to make bootleg 12 packs.

Every time I am out of state, I just marvel in the knowledge that I can usually buy beer in the grocery store or gas station, and sometimes just do it out of principle.
posted by PlutoniumX at 9:06 AM on June 24, 2010


We may not have Sunday sales here in Indiana, but, by the gods, you can walk out of any grocery store here with beer, wine and liquor. They're trying to get a bill passed to allow the groceries to sell cold beer, too. The liquor store owners are fighting that one hard, as it's the last grasp they have on that market.

Oddly, at least where I live, the grocery stores have a better microbrew and fine wine selection than any of the liquor stores. The liquor stores still have the edge when it comes to, well, liquor. You aren't going to find much of a selection of single-malts in my grocery.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:06 AM on June 24, 2010


Standing in line waiting for someone to make their wine selection is gonna be 1000 times worse than watching someone browse through the Redbox DVD titles by genre.
posted by orme at 9:08 AM on June 24, 2010


I swear, if Pennsylvania could bring back Prohibition, it would.

I grew up in Pennsylvania, and my grandmother was proud of the number of "dry townships" she lobbied for. There's also a strong Quaker and pietist German (e.g., Amish and Mennonites) presence in the state that definitely reinforces some prohibitionist attitudes among the older generation.
posted by jonp72 at 9:08 AM on June 24, 2010


Is there really such a big payoff from the state stores that money would be lost if they just taxed regular liquor sales?

Depends on whose numbers you believe. Advocates of privatization say it will be a wash. Those who favor the status quo claim the state would lose millions. The real money is in the wholesale tier. The state of PA is one if the biggest liquor buyers in the world. But why should they be in that business? They are not in the wholesale gasoline business, for example.
posted by fixedgear at 9:10 AM on June 24, 2010


In terms of California lifestyle: Every corner bodega/deli/convenience store is usually just referred to as "the liquor store"
posted by wcfields at 9:22 AM on June 24, 2010


She gave me the bag and told me that she was not allowed to put the bottles in the bag. I didn't ask why, but I understand it to be that it was sold for theoretical consumption on premises but that they couldn't stop me from leaving.

Weird, I sell beer take out and my boss says the law is we have to put it in one of our bags NO MATTER WHAT even if they bring their own and want to put it in that. Who the fuck even knows?

The state of PA is one if the biggest liquor buyers in the world.


They like to pretend that means we get good prices, but it doesn't since the tax jacks up the price at the retail level. The whole system is a total fraud, I only support it so I can keep my job selling overpriced six packs, and I think that is the general attitude up and down the chain.

The situation never improves because there are too many entrenched powers holding on to the status quo, mainly the liquor board and the beer distributors. It's the deadly combination of corrupt goverment power and corrupt business power that is choking modern America to death.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:23 AM on June 24, 2010


A prankster programmer could really have some fun with this one.

"I SAID NO FUCKING MERLOT!"
posted by norm at 9:33 AM on June 24, 2010


It would probably be trademark infringement, but I wish they had called this "RedOrWhiteBox"
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:42 AM on June 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I wonder if opening on Sunday would be a net gain for liquor stores. People currently adjust their buying to other days, so they would really only be gaining "emergency" purchases, and in exchange they would have to be open all day paying staff.

Allowing liquor stores to operate on Sunday was the compromise to the Colorado legislation that bibliowench mentioned upthread. Oddly enough, I have found that I seem to buy less beer now. I live close to an excellent liquor store. Every Saturday, I would contemplate the idea of having a nice glass of beer on the coming Sunday afternoon. The idea of that is irresistible, and in order to ensure that I would not be stymied by blue laws, I would buy a six pack of beer every Saturday. Regardless of my actual desire to drink beer, the imposed scarcity made it seem essential. "Hmm..who knows what I might want to drink 16, or even 18 hours from now?! I better get some lager beer and some ale.. and a bottle of Andre if we happen to want mimosas!" That heinous, nagging worry about not being able to buy alcohol ensured that I was well stocked. However, when they started opening on Sundays, that fear was assuaged. If I wanted a beer, I could buy one. And, surprise, it turns out that I actually want a beer less than I think I want a beer. Sometimes I'll go over there and buy a six pack on a Sunday. Sometimes I'll just buy a bomber of whatever I want to crack open at the moment, instead of trying to recreate their beer aisle in my fridge. Either way, I've found that scarcity was more of a motivating factor than desire. Now I tend to buy what I'm going to drink, instead of what I might need in case I decide to have an impromptu dinner party for my closest 40 friends.
posted by iloveit at 9:44 AM on June 24, 2010


And we haven't even started to talk about the rules for shipping alcohol to various states ...
posted by sciencegeek at 9:45 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


One of the main reasons that laws governing beer sales don't change, is huge resistance from the Malt Beverage Distributors Association, who have a bit of a monopoly.
posted by Drab_Parts at 9:46 AM on June 24, 2010


Or what furiousxgeorge said...
posted by Drab_Parts at 9:48 AM on June 24, 2010




You can get beer in six packs at convenience stores in addition to the other places people have mentioned.

Almost. It must be a deli or similar business selling prepared food with an eating area. Many convenience stores arrange to meet the state minimum for qualifying. But there's no beer in 7-11 or Wawa.

I'm trying to wrap my head around that; what is the logic behind that law and what do they have against poor people? Is the price of a six-pack from a bar jacked up to bar prices or is it comparable to a discount grocery store? And a case? Are they crazy? This is so counter intuitive to decreasing the amount of alcohol consumed that I can only assume they figured fewer people would be able to come up with the price for a full case than could find the money for a single bottle.

The logic is that it should be difficult and annoying to buy alcohol because alcohol is dangerous. Simple as that.

The price of a six-pack at a bar is sometimes *very slightly* reduced from per-drink bar prices, if there is sufficient neighborhood competition to warrant this. And you are not required to buy an entire six-pack from a bar or deli, you can just buy a couple of beers to go if you want. (Certainly corner bars do a brisk business in selling 40s.) However, you may not buy more than two six-packs.

However, at a distributor you absolutely must purchase an entire case.
posted by desuetude at 9:58 AM on June 24, 2010


I wonder if opening on Sunday would be a net gain for liquor stores. People currently adjust their buying to other days, so they would really only be gaining "emergency" purchases, and in exchange they would have to be open all day paying staff.

I guess the alcoholics buying a fifth of vodka at midday would appreciate it though.


I believe this is precisely the logic employed by the PCLB. Respectable people will plan ahead, only drunks need to buy liquor or wine on a Sunday.
posted by desuetude at 10:00 AM on June 24, 2010


Hey, at least the machines work on Sunday, unlike in my home state of Georgia. I really enjoy watching conservatives here try to tie themselves in rhetorical knots trying to explain how prohibiting private businesses from selling alcohol on Sundays is consistent with their "small government" philosophy.
posted by deadmessenger at 10:04 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow -- I really thought it was odd when I lived in Evanston, Illinois (home of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union) and you had to buy your wine at a different part of the grocery store than the rest of your purchases. And I think that even they have lessened restrictions. The fact that there's still states like this blows my mind.

It makes me think I should get out more. But even if I'm drinking less, it seems these are places I would not want to get out more to.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:35 AM on June 24, 2010


In 2001-2003 they still had six packs in Wawa. And then they stopped having them. It was a sad day when a couple of us from work went to Wawa to get some beer to drink on a warm summer afternoon and the space in the deli case where they once had been was filled with sodas.
posted by sciencegeek at 10:48 AM on June 24, 2010


In 2001-2003 they still had six packs in Wawa.

Where was this? I'm thinking you are mistaken. No beer in c-stores, that's what Sheetz is all about.
posted by fixedgear at 10:53 AM on June 24, 2010


As some others have noted, despite political lip service, most of the bizarre liquor laws that still survive in various U.S. states may have been born out of puritanism but the real reason they persist is protectionism.

Here in New York there is a renewed push to expand wine sales to include supermarkets, who can currently sell beer but not wine or hard liquor (and "liquor" stores, per se, do not sell beer...brilliant). The motivation, of course, is money -- hundreds of millions in potential liquor licenses that large (and small) grocery chains would buy. (And the chains are enthusiastically willing to do so).

Incumbent liquor stores, unsurprisingly, are completely opposed to all this. Many have joined in a campaign to play upon sympathy for independent retailers, which they call "The Last Store on Main Street". Feel for the little guy and all. Because of course, having the last store on Main St. be a liquor store is so Norman Rockwell. Way to dream.

Independent liquor stores have recently been accused of bullying some of the many NYS wineries. As a winery, you likely want your product as widely available as possible. But wineries who have come out supporting expanded wine sales have found their products and tastings banished by independents. Wineries are really caught in a catch-22 here because they don't know which way the legislation will pan out, and so it could be risky to burn their bridges.

Because the incumbents have defended themselves with puerile, blatantly anti-competitive tactics, it is difficult to find much sympathy that they should be blessed with a monopoly on selling fermented juices.

All this said, Pennsylvania's liquor laws are indeed even weirder. For further evidence that liquor sales are about more than just puritanism, take a trip to "liberal" Canada some time and enjoy imbibing whatever the provincial government deems you allowed to drink.

And then there's New Orleans, with drive-thru to-go cups.
posted by thebordella at 11:02 AM on June 24, 2010


Even if every retail store was closed, we live in one of the few cities in the US with no legally mandated last call time meaning you can always find a bar ready to serve you.

You forgot the best part. You can also walk around, in public, drinking an alcoholic beverage! It's almost like you get to be treated like an adult.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:03 AM on June 24, 2010


I believe this is precisely the logic employed by the PCLB.

Yeah, I hadn't realized it but it's a pretty big lobbying fight, with the public playing little part. On one side is the liquor store lobby, who figure their overhead will increase greater than their sales. On the other side is the liquor distributors lobby and politicians who gain from any increased sales volume, in profit and taxes respectively.
posted by smackfu at 11:07 AM on June 24, 2010


Looks like a step in the right direction at least.

But all this reminds me of growing up in a dry county in North Carolina where the fact that liquor is sold only in ABC stores coupled with the absurd drinking age of 21 meant that it was often easier and simpler to buy drugs (and I mean hard drugs) than it was to get a six pack of beer.

Later, when I worked as a bartender in a restaurant in college, I'd often have to explain to people not from North Carolina just why I couldn't serve them a beer or glass of wine with their lunch until after 12, often resulting in the customers sitting and watching the clock for three minutes (a group of German tourists later filled in a complaint form about this--thinking I was playing an absurd practical joke on them).

Even now when I go home (I've been living abroad for several years), I'm shocked by how much planning is involved in having drinks with my friends. On more than one occasion, I've been in a bar where the conversation suddenly turns to how we need to leave in the next 5 minutes so we have time to get to a convenience store to buy some more beer. At these times I always wonder why we're getting ready to leave when the bar is just starting to be a lot of fun--and then I remember that you can't buy alcohol after 2am.

While we can say that these absurd laws absurdly remain due to capitalistic reasons, I have heard more than one person remark that they would prohibit alcohol if the decision were up to them. Granted, these people are southern Baptists but it still shows, much like the comments point out above regarding Pennsylvania, that puritanical beliefs towards alcohol still hold sway.

In fact, thinking back to my teenage years again, it might be better if alcohol was completely banned--then it might be as easy to buy as cocaine is in my hometown. (tongue in cheek).
posted by FunGus at 11:14 AM on June 24, 2010


Wow, I never realized that my father in law's hankering for Manischewitz and Mogen David marked him as a PA rebel.
posted by NortonDC at 11:15 AM on June 24, 2010


Even now when I go home (I've been living abroad for several years), I'm shocked by how much planning is involved in having drinks with my friends.

You could just go out earlier if a 2 AM closing is cramping your style.

It worked for the English for many, many years.
posted by smackfu at 11:18 AM on June 24, 2010


smackfu: "You could just go out earlier if a 2 AM closing is cramping your style.
It worked for the English for many, many years."


Sure, the English may have learned how to deal with a 2AM last call, and we could too, but the point is that we shouldn't HAVE to. Saying "go partying earlier" doesn't do anything but conceded that municipal (or state) ordinances stating a last call time are unnecessary and ridiculous restrictions on business owners.
posted by komara at 11:31 AM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


The price of a six-pack at a bar is sometimes *very slightly* reduced from per-drink bar prices, if there is sufficient neighborhood competition to warrant this.

Actually, in my virtually lifelong PA experience, it's quite a bit more than "very slightly"reduced. At most bars that I would go to, the price of, say, a Yuengling bottle that you're drinking there at the bar is anywhere from $2.75-$3.50 apiece. A six-pack of bottles is generally around $8-10. Six individual beers at a bar adds up to about $18, and that's before tipping the bartender/server, too. So, you're actually looking at paying less than half the drinking-in-the-bar price.

Needless to say, though, in PA, every bar is in competition with every other bar for six-pack sales.

The idiocy does not stop in PA, either. I remember years ago staying with some friends in Ohio, and we went to go get beer at - wonder of wonders - the grocery store! So we got to the checkout, and the kid working in our particular line turned out to be 17 years old. This means that he is not permitted to "vend" alcoholic beverages. Sheepishly, the poor kid calls his manager over, so that she can physically lift the beers off the conveyor belt and pass them over the price scanner. That, apparently, kept this young man from undue exposure to the seamier side of life...
posted by deep thought sunstar at 11:36 AM on June 24, 2010


In 2001-2003 they still had six packs in Wawa. Where was this? I'm thinking you are mistaken. No beer in c-stores, that's what Sheetz is all about. posted by fixedgear at 1:53 PM on 6/24

I remember the wawa at 38th & spruce having beer. Bought a six of rolling rock before a Yo La Tengo show.
posted by orme at 12:14 PM on June 24, 2010


orme and I apparently shopped at the same Wawa. You could buy two six packs at a time.
posted by sciencegeek at 12:19 PM on June 24, 2010


The NYC blue laws used to drive me insane back in the mid-90s, especially before Guiliani really hit his quality of life stride. The ridiculous number of bureaucratic hoops through which to jump in order to get a goddamn mimosa with your brunch was only compounded by the fact that you could nip over to bag-in-a-bag for a nickel in under 10 minutes.

uh. so i hear.
posted by elizardbits at 12:41 PM on June 24, 2010


A dozen years ago, a Wawa convenience store in West Philadelphia was permitted to sell beer, which is why Sheetz is not the first Pennsylvania convenience store to do so. But the Wawa store has since sold its license.

Source

I stand corrected.
posted by fixedgear at 1:29 PM on June 24, 2010


Wow. I came in to post how ridiculous the wine vending machine is, but after reading this thread I'd say it's for the best for PA, where the liquor laws seems completely absurd. And I thought my homestate of AR was bad with its Sunday ban and dry counties.
posted by zardoz at 2:45 PM on June 24, 2010


This is like that whole paying with cheques thing. You Americans are wacky. It quite literally blows my mind that you can't just pop down the road, any time, day or night, weekday or weekend, and get yourself something to drink. How do you get through life?
posted by Lleyam at 2:51 PM on June 24, 2010


Didn't know about the WaWa beer thing. When I worked there we were told it was company policy not to sell Playboy type magazines or even lottery tickets because they wanted a family friendly type store.

I supposed alcohol was included in that which is why they didn't lobby for beer sales like other places.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:24 PM on June 24, 2010


My mom worked at a restaurant growing up in Pennsylvania. The laws, at least at the time:
21 to drink
18 to serve
16 to clear it from the table
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:25 PM on June 24, 2010


Having been born and raised in a control state (Virginia), I am pleased to now live in a country where I can not only get beer, wine, and liquor at my local convenience store (not to mention my local supermarket or my local alcoholic beverage store), but I can do so 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Japan has a lot of problems, but getting sloshed isn't one of them. (Aside from the ridiculously high taxes on beer...)
posted by armage at 4:33 PM on June 24, 2010


What is the history behind treating beer differently than wine and liquor?

That's actually a Prohibition-era relic. Reeling from the effects of Prohibition, brewers lobbied to have beer classified as "non-intoxicating." This was actually somewhat successful, which is why there are still states with 3.2 beer. Expert testimony convinced Congress that beer with an alcohol content of 3.2% or less (by weight) wasn't an intoxicating beverage, leading to the passage of the Cullen-Harrison Act in 1933. Thus, beer was allowed to be sold before the passage of the 21st Amendment and the actual end of Prohibition. (source)

Now I'm off to buy some beer and wine from the grocery store in celebration that I don't live in Pennsylvania.
posted by kyleg at 4:37 PM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


After growing up in Oregon where grocery stores have towering megaliths for just beer aisles, going to college in Pennsylvania was a big surprise. The local state store wasn't terrible (and they didn't card), but my friend (who is legally distinct from me) would occasionally be forced to cross state lines in search of greener pastures.
posted by Muttoneer at 5:08 PM on June 24, 2010


The liquor laws in this country are ridiculous. I generally prefer spirits over wine or beer, so to see it in its own special, extremely restrictive category truly irks me. Some supermarkets here sell wine and beer, but never spirits. No, for that you must go to a state-run liquor store, which is closed on Sundays and late at night. (There are many stores that just sell wine and beer, but aren't allowed to sell spirits for some stupid reason.) I rarely drink these days, but it still bothers me that I can't just pop out for some gin whenever I fancy it.

I dearly miss the UK's liquor laws. My local Sainsbury's (a huge supermarket) had aisles upon aisles of spirits, lager, and wine. They also had 'own brand' alcohol, which led to awesome things like a £5.65 Malibu knockoff. You can buy alcohol there any hour they're open, I believe.

There are also corner stores everywhere that sell all kinds of alcohol ('off-licences,' so called because they have a licence to sell you alcohol that you can drink off the premises). There must be laws about how late they can sell alcohol, but I never found out what the cutoff time was. Back when I lived in a mental flat with an alcoholic and a huge group of people, we would often go to the 24-hour offie and they sold us alcohol even when the alcohol bit of the shop was closed. They'd even sell us alcohol when we were clearly wasted, which led to things like the alcoholic dropping a huge bottle of vodka on the floor, where it smashed to pieces.

The one good thing about the state-run liquor stores is that they sometimes have really odd discounts. I once bought a 750ml bottle of Hennessy for $21. (I was used to paying £26 or so for 700ml in the UK.)
posted by Put the kettle on at 7:31 PM on June 24, 2010


Individual Wawa locations, if they wanted, could almost certainly qualify to sell beer to go. (And yeah, they used to.) It must be either a corporate policy change, or they don't want to pay for the extra license, or both. I assume that this will change if Sheetz wins the fight, as Wawa is directly attempting to compete with the northern march of Sheetz.

Even now when I go home (I've been living abroad for several years), I'm shocked by how much planning is involved in having drinks with my friends. On more than one occasion, I've been in a bar where the conversation suddenly turns to how we need to leave in the next 5 minutes so we have time to get to a convenience store to buy some more beer.

In Virginia (at least when I lived there 12 years ago) you could only buy beer from convenience stores until 11:59 p.m. Luckily, the NC border was close enough that it was plausible to make a run across state lines if desperate.
posted by desuetude at 7:51 PM on June 24, 2010


Wacky! Makes me miss living in the Pittsburgh area. Or not. The toy appeal would wear out quickly. Also fun in the Pittsburgh area is that many of the 156 local municipalities within Allegheny county are "dry". You can identify some by driving down a major road and seeing all the bars and restaurants only on one side of the street. That side is a different municipal government from the other side (Regent Square is a good example) that allows for sale of alcohol.

I always found it amusing that you couldn't buy less than a full six pack or case respectively, and if eating dinner out and ordering a bottle of wine you'd better finish the whole thing before driving home, because taking it with you to consume later is illegal.

For a state with strict liquor laws it doesn't mean there is less drinking either. Far from it..
posted by meinvt at 8:07 PM on June 24, 2010


Individual Wawa locations, if they wanted, could almost certainly qualify to sell beer to go. (And yeah, they used to.)

The thing is, WaWa isn't franchised, I don't understand why one store was doing it in the first place.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:49 PM on June 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Some supermarkets here sell wine and beer, but never spirits. No, for that you must go to a state-run liquor store, which is closed on Sundays and late at night. (There are many stores that just sell wine and beer, but aren't allowed to sell spirits for some stupid reason.) I rarely drink these days, but it still bothers me that I can't just pop out for some gin whenever I fancy it.

Just give up and move to California already. Though I admit stores here stop selling 2-6am, so perhaps I cannot talk. :(

I once bought a 750ml bottle of Hennessy for $21.

BevMo sells it for about that. $23-24 usually. Hey, I can get you a liter of Jim Beam for $12. Same price for 1.5L of Kentucky Gentleman. No questions asked. ^_^

Gosh I'm drunk. Good thing I can totter off and get some more at the corner store. God Bless America the Idea.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:54 PM on June 24, 2010


Good grief... alcohol laws in the south are weird.

Here in Oklahoma, liquor stores cannot sell COLD beverages in any form: no cold beer, no cold wine. They also do not carry Bud/Miller/Coors -- I don't know if that's a law or some distribution thing where they won't allow their product sold at room temperature (one owner told me it was a law). Also we have the nasty "low point beer" thing where grocery store + supermarket beer can only consist of 3.3% alcohol max.

On the other hand Oklahoma never had that Unicard thing (the fake club you would have to "join" in order to buy a drink at a restaurant) that Texas had going on in the 1980s and 1990s. I also remember Texas was also really unpredictable as far as which localities and counties were dry and which were wet... I recall me and my wife driving home from New York several years ago down I-30 in Northeast Texas and wanting to pick up a 6-pack to have when we got home.... no place along I-30 had any beer and no one knew where we'd have to go to get it... we started looking around Sulphur Springs and never found any until we got to Plano.

I'm curious to what extent the big American brewers facilitate all this... I strongly suspect they are behind a lot of these laws. If they really wanted fully open access to the market, a multi-billion dollar multinational company like AB or Miller would have no problem throwing around campaign contributions and PR to bend the alcohol sales landscape in any given state. Funny that it's the restaurant associations and service industries that seem to spur the most change.
posted by crapmatic at 5:46 AM on June 25, 2010


Yeah the county next to us is dry, but last year they changed the laws to allow restaurants to serve alcohol.

The ABCs in NC are closed Sundays and holidays, which normally means a Monday, so if you want to throw a labor day party you really have to think ahead.

Also we have the nasty "low point beer" thing where grocery store + supermarket beer can only consist of 3.3% alcohol max. We got that changed a few years back, so now you can buy the high alcohol content beer.... if you can afford it. In fact, I would haphazard a guess that getting that law changed was easier just because the beers are so pricey; there was no fear that "the working class" were going to be buying it and getting drunker than they do now. I may just be a cynic but I always see these ridiculous laws as being geared towards making it more difficult for the lower classes to buy while not making it too difficult for the ruling classes to get a hold of their alcohol of choice.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:38 AM on June 25, 2010


crapmatic: Here in Oklahoma, liquor stores cannot sell COLD beverages in any form: no cold beer, no cold wine. They also do not carry Bud/Miller/Coors -- I don't know if that's a law or some distribution thing where they won't allow their product sold at room temperature (one owner told me it was a law). Also we have the nasty "low point beer" thing where grocery store + supermarket beer can only consist of 3.3% alcohol max.

Indiana has a similar thing: cold milk OR cold alcoholic beverages, pick only one. Which means warm beer and wine (along with liquor) are available a great many places, but liquor stores have you covered if you want to pick up some tailgating beer to drink right now.

bibliowench: Their one argument that had any sway with me was the threat that these new liquor laws would endanger some of the specialty wine and beer stores, and it would be harder to find anything but the mass-distributed labels. While I don't know how likely such a scenario would be, I would hate to lose stores run by knowledgeable and curious owners who make it their mission to have an ever-changing, eclectic collection, in favor of an easily-accessible supermarket aisle.

Hogwash! The originating home town of Wegmans is also the home town to one of the best specialty beer stores in the US.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:01 AM on June 25, 2010


My only PA beer buying was during this past Philly Beer week, when I had some time to kill before Rod Tod from Allagash showed up at Jose-something's, and I stopped in a little convenience store / deli / bodega down the block. They had a better per-square-foot beer selection than my normal store here, which is pretty well regarded. I managed to get a specific bottle that I've only seen in Belgium and in Monk's, though I have seen other stuff from the brewer in the States.

All in all, I was very pleased.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:10 AM on June 25, 2010


paisley henosis, did you go to the Foodery at 10th and Pine? I can't imagine that Latimer Deli (one block from Jose Pistola's) has a good selection, but I guess it's possible now that the neighborhood has gone a bit more upscale?
posted by desuetude at 9:13 AM on June 25, 2010


I looked it up on Google Maps, and apparently it was indeed the Latimer Deli. The selection was small, but only about 1/4 of it, max, was Bud/Corona/crap, the rest was very well chosen, with ~1/2 of the non-crap being Belgians, and a good chunk of the rest PA-area brewers; the non-PA non-Belgian choices were pretty strong, too, I saw some Terrapin, as well as some other things.

Also, for anyone keeping score at home, the woman at the counter bagged the beer for me.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:28 AM on June 25, 2010


His name is Rob Tod. Rod and Todd are Homer's neighbors.
posted by fixedgear at 9:48 AM on June 25, 2010


Wow, good to know. When I lived in that neighborhood, Latimer was pretty much just the crap. (Great breakfasts, though.)
posted by desuetude at 11:30 AM on June 25, 2010


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posted by fixedgear at 12:50 PM on June 25, 2010


Self Service World dot com likes this thread.

Wow. It just gets stupider and stupider:

According to a PLCB press release, the breathalyzer is set to the state's "zero tolerance" level of .02 blood alcohol — so if a shopper has had a beer with dinner, he would not be allowed to complete the purchase.

They assume everyone is driving? Or does "zero tolerance" apply to everyone just walking around on the streets?!?!
posted by mrgrimm at 1:05 PM on June 25, 2010


fixedgear: His name is Rob Tod. Rod and Todd are Homer's neighbors.

Bah, I knew that too, my bad. Sorry Rob!

mrgrimm: They assume everyone is driving? Or does "zero tolerance" apply to everyone just walking around on the streets?!?!

According to the sign in Latimer, it is illegal for them to sell alcohol to anyone who is currently intoxicated. How a convenience story clerk can be asked to reasonably assess that, I have no idea.
posted by paisley henosis at 2:55 PM on June 25, 2010


the breathalyzer is set to the state's "zero tolerance" level of .02 blood alcohol

Heh. I had an ignition interlock thanks to a DUI once, here in PA, not that long ago. It was set higher than that.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:17 PM on June 25, 2010


According to the sign in Latimer, it is illegal for them to sell alcohol to anyone who is currently intoxicated. How a convenience story clerk can be asked to reasonably assess that, I have no idea.

The sign is an L&I (Dept of Licenses and Inspections) regulation. The standard signage says "visibly intoxicated." Presumably it serves to both uphold the shopkeeper's right to refuse service AND to provide fodder to shut down nuisance businesses.
posted by desuetude at 4:24 PM on June 25, 2010


Garces Lawsuit
posted by fixedgear at 5:26 AM on June 26, 2010


Indiana has a similar thing: cold milk OR cold alcoholic beverages, pick only one.

Well, sort of. My local Marsh supermarket (which, of course, sells cold milk) has a cooler case for wines and champagnes. No cold beer, though.

I also remember as a child, back when groceries started selling beer, my mom picking up a six pack for dad. The under-21 girl at the checkout could punch-in the price of the beer, but my mom had to reach over and hit the "Enter" key on the cash register. Being under 21, the girl couldn't "sell" the beer.
To those confused by that scene, there was time when we had these things called "cash registers", where you had to punch-in the price of things using a rather large set of mechanical keys. They looked a lot like this.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:31 AM on June 26, 2010


Indiana has a similar thing: cold milk OR cold alcoholic beverages, pick only one.

Well, sort of. My local Marsh supermarket (which, of course, sells cold milk) has a cooler case for wines and champagnes. No cold beer, though.


What if someone, say, buys a tallboy (a pint can) and then after the sale, there is a free Cooper Cooler service? The beer has been sold, the cooling service is for ...anything, even soda.

Of course, who is A) buying only one beer and B) What the fuck is this law trying to accomplish? I was going to get a six pack but they're warm! I can't possibly drink this it is like ash and bile! Do they think this will reduce consumption and if so have the lawmakers never actually met a another human being outside of their advanced skinner boxes and merely had wants and desires explained to them by The Helpful Voice?
posted by The Whelk at 8:48 AM on June 26, 2010


I never buy cold beer because I do live in Pennsylvania and I can only buy full cases from the beer store (we call them distributors) and I can't fit a whole case in the fridge. I could buy a six pack from the bar that that cost's twice as much. So I buy a warm case and put it in the fridge a six pack at a time. Yes my favorite state sucks.
posted by octothorpe at 2:25 PM on June 26, 2010


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