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Pennsylvania Wine Law Primer

New PA Wine Laws Explained
New PA Wine Laws Explained

As of August 8th, 2016 how alcohol is bought and sold in Pennsylvania had changed in a dramatic way.  The is not just about semi-privatization and consumer choice. That is not the half of it. The new legislation will affect wineries, breweries, cider makers, distilleries, beer distributors, grocery stores, bottle shops, beer wholesalers, restaurants, and entrepreneurs in profound ways.

Things will not happen right away. August 8th was the first day the PCLB started taking applications for the  newly augmented liquor licenses and various permits detailed below.

In this white paper, I have made a point of including all the essential points of the new law (based on HB1690) and broken them down to the market sectors they will have the greatest impact on.   If you have anything to add or suggest, please post a comment.

This white paper is intended to give an overview of the new law for all interested parties. For an excellent overview of why the law is controversial, please check out Jason Malumed’s piece in BillPenn.

 

PLCB Wine & Spirits Stores

Better Store Hours

A major change is expanded hours for many stores across the state. Stores can now be open longer, as well as be open on Sundays and some holidays.

Consumers tend to spend per capita on Sundays, and this will keep many of them from travelling out of state for their boozy needs. It will also be a boon for the PLCB store employees. More hours will mean more full time employees. Under the new legislation, Wine & Spirits stores will be able to sell lottery tickets, as well. This move will also require more retail staffing.

 

Better Sales

Another major change is a new flexibility in pricing. Wine & Spirits Stores will now be able to offer sales, coupons, and membership programs. These are the three core selling techniques in modern retail wine stores. While the former system allowed  for some discounting, it was a stale attempt that didn’t offer the consumer much.

 

Better Pricing

Another change is that the PLCB no longer is required to proportionally price all wines. There is currently a requirement that the markup on wine and spirits be standardized, which is currently pegged at 30% .

That standard markup is one of the reasons  why wines are more expensive in Pennsylvania than in other states. In wine shops in NJ and DE, high volume wines are priced with much lower margins, sometimes a cent over wholesale.

As it is now stands, the PLCB pricing algorithm has been reverse-engineered. Wine distributors can game the system and insure the shelf price is very close to the winery’s suggested retail price.  Arguably, the new law allows the PLCB more negotiation leeway on wholesale pricing.

Over time, this change will push down the wholesale price of wine, not just for the PLCB but for the forthcoming private wine and beer shops in  Pennsylvania, too; those private shops are  tied to the wholesale pricing the PLCB negotiates.

 Bottomline for the Consumer: Prices for national brand wines could drop significantly over the new few years. Pricing for higher quality wines (and spirits) will be more volatile. In some instances we may see an increase in pricing, especially in spirits and collectible wines.  The introduction of lottery sales will appeal to some consumers, and repel others. 

 

Private Wine & Beer Shops

For the first time since before prohibition, there will be private wine shops permitted in the state of Pennsylvania.  These shops will require savvy sommeliers with an eye for obscure wines and a tolerance for razor thin budgets.

How Much Will Wines Cost?

Pricing for wines at the private wine shops will be variable. It will be up to the individual stores how to price their wines, but it will take a brilliant wine buyer to be able to keep prices down and quality high.

Having private wine shops is a remarkable thing, but the law does not fully privatize wine sales. The PLCB will control both the availability and wholesale price of the wine.  The shops will have an inflated wholesale price, as well: The PLCB will tack on 10% to the wholesale cost, plus the 18% emergency tax (aka Johnstown Flood Tax) will also be incorporated into the wholesale cost.  Plus, private wine shops can only sell 4 bottles of wine at a time.

Bottomline for the Consumer:  The private wine shops will not be able to offer good pricing on popular wines. Due to unnaturally high wholesale costs, those wines will cost more than in surrounding states. It is also very likely that prices will be lower in the PLCB Wine & Spirits stores, as well.  

 

How to Open a Private Wine Shop in PA

The first round of private wine shops will be located at grocery stores, restaurants, bars, hotels and delis that have pre-existing liquor licenses.  If you own a business with a liquor license, you can open up a wine shop. The first step is to upgrade their licenses to take advantage of the new law. The cost will range from $2K (for restaurant and hotels with an R license) to $32K (for bottle shops and grocery stores with an E license).

While $32K may seem like a steep price to pay, you are in effect converting your license to a Bar/Tavern license that allows you to serve wine & liquor. Those licenses are highly valuable commodity: In Center City Philadelphia,  liquor licenses are currently valued at  $185,000 – $205,000, according to Attorney Matthew Goldstein.

In our reading of the law, it seems possible that a  small bottle shop or deli could convert itself into a full scale  bar for a fraction of what it would typically cost. We don’t see any covenants in place that would compel them to convert into a boutique wine & beer shop. Instead, it seems more likely they would opt to become a full scale bar. We may be wrong about this, but it does seem to be a potential  issue.

Holding a coveted R license now allows the holder to sell up to four bottles of wine  per transaction. This is the part of the law that allows private wine shops. Restaurants can embed boutique wine shops into their dining rooms; the corner deli can be transformed into wine and cheese emporiums; the local bottle shop can turn into a haven for booze geeks of all stripes: beer, cider, and wine.

We feel this is one of the more interesting aspects of the new law. However, it does not apply to Philadelphia. The law specifically excludes Philly from this benefit. 

Bottomline for the Wine Trade: To be successful, private wine shops will have to specialize in boutique wines from less well known wine regions that offer high quality for value. 

 

How to Get a (newish) Liquor License

For the first time since prohibition, new liquor licenses will be available annually. These licenses are not actually new, but ones that were revoked or mothballed for various violations. There are hundreds of these licenses, and the PLCB will hold an annual auction to sell 50 of these licenses in every county.

There are currently 625 such licenses available, with an additional 200 estimated to be available in FY 2016–2017. The minimum bid is set at $25,000; the Senate Appropriations Committee estimates that the average selling price will be $75,000.

The effect of these annual auctions will likely be a devaluation of the current high cost of liquor licenses, somewhere between 10 and 25%. If you have a liquor license you want to sell, I would suggest doing so before the the auctions are implemented in 2017.

 

Direct Shipping to PA

Wineries can now ship directly to consumers, up to 36 cases annually. The law does not allow retail wine stores to ship to PA, only wineries. This law puts PA law into line with the standards of wine shipping throughout the US, which has enormous benefits for the wine trade.

For a winery to ship to a customer in PA, they will have to obtain a a direct wine shipper license from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), which will cost $25o per year.  There will be two taxes on the wines. First is a gallonage tax of $2.50 per gallon, which will add $0.43 per bottle to the price. Sales tax for PA will also have to be collects. In Philly, that tax is currently 10%.

The 18% Johnstown Flood tax will not be levied for direct shipments of wine.

Bottomline for the Consumer:  Now we can have wine shipped to us, just like everyone else in America.  

 

Wineries

PA wineries can now sell  PA-made spirits and beer. Not just PA-made beer, but any beer legally registered in the state.

This is an interesting change.  A limited winery can now offer a full selection of beers along with PA-made distilled spirits and their own wines. This doesn’t just affect the winery, but also their off-site licenses; wineries are allowed to have five retail wine shops in the state. The caveat is the beer and spirits have to be consumed on-premise.

The changes to the wine shipping laws are a boon for PA wineries. With the modernization of our shipping laws, states like New York will now allow shipments from PA wineries.  This is no small change: direct to consumer shipping, often in the form of a wine club, is critical for a winery’s financial health.

 

Breweries & Brew Pubs

There are several paragraphs  in the law that are beneficial to the beer trade. The brewpub license has been extended. It now allows for serving PA wine (which was already allowed) and PA distilled spirits for on-site consumption.

The law also creates the PA Malt and Brewed Beverages Industry Promotion Board, which will oversee $1 Million dollars in annual grants. This is welcome new funds aimed at promoting local brewing. It will not take long before PR firms jump on this upcoming new revenue stream.

For breweries, there is also a tax credit for capital expenditures, up to $200k annually. The combination of tax credit and the grant are a smart combination that will help build up our vibrant brewing culture.

There is one potential negative in the bill, as it allows beer wholesalers to have up to 5 locations:

Nevertheless, there are provisions in this Bill which significantly benefit beer wholesalers and have a drastic effect on franchise laws in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that could lead to the ultimate demise of many small breweries.

For more details, attorney Ted Zeller has written a brief on the subject

Bottomline for the Consumer: Our local beer culture is going to get a shot in the arm. Expect our local beer heros to take it up a notch.  

 

Distilleries

The law normalizes distillery laws, which now mirror the laws for wineries and breweries. They can sell any available wine or beer at their locations (on-site consumption) along with their own products.

The maximum production for a limited distillery is now set at 100K gallons.

 

Cider Makers

The PLCB is getting out of the cider selling business. All cider up to 8.5% alcohol can now be sold at bottle shops and beer distributors. Previously,  only the PLCB could sell ciders above 5.5%.

The market for cider is growing, and moving away from the sweet low alcohol stuff to the more complex (and awesome) ciders from Normandy, France  and Basque Country, Spain. It also opens the door to the many artisanal dry ciders being made around the US, as well.

Now, cider makers can sell all of their products within a single distribution stream, which will mean less headaches for them, and better selections for the rest of us!

Bottomline for the Consumer:  Better selection of ciders will start showing up in bottle shops, beer distributors, and restaurants by 2017. Pricing will probably track lower, as well. 

 

Big New Nasty Fines

Selling wine out of your back door? Running a speakeasy?  It’s time to either go legit or go home. The law sets forth some seriously nasty fines if you get caught selling wine without a proper license.  Along with any legal trouble you will get into, there is also a mandatory fine of $88 dollars a bottle. And that fine isn’t just for the wine you were selling, but for every bottle of wine in the building.

It is an open secret that some restaurants try to cut their costs by purchasing wines out of  state.  The practice is so common that the employees in a large wine shops in Delaware  actually believe it is legal.

Imagine getting hit with an $88 fine for every bottle of wine in the restaurant’s wine cellar, regardless of whether or not it was legally obtained via the PLCB.  The average restaurant has at least 200 bottles of wine on hand at any time. That would  result in a minimum fine of $17,800.

 

Addendum

Tom Wark of The National Association of Wine Retailers sent us the following criticism of the new wine law.

The consequences of Pennsylvania not including out of state wine retailers among those now eligible to obtain a direct wine shipping permit is that PA consumers are banned from having any imported wines shipped to them if they can’t find what they want locally.

Only retailers sell imported wines to consumers in the U.S., not domestic wineries and certainly not foreign wineries. Until PA revises its laws to allow consumers to purchase from out of state wine retailers, all imported wines, nearly all rare and hard to find wines and all wine of the month clubs will be inaccessible to Pennsylvania wine lovers.

60 thoughts on “Pennsylvania Wine Law Primer”

  1. Have you found any PLCB legislation that mentions whether a limited winery can sell wine or cider slushies TO-GO in a single, sealed cup?

    Reply
  2. I am Allen daverport  .I would love to let you know our interest toward some of your products.Before we proceed,I will like to know the types of card accepted by you because we are paying with Credit card.  

    Reply
  3. I heard that a restaurant can be labeled as an outpost for a single winery or brewery & sell the one product only without a liquor license (in PA). Is this true?

    Reply
  4. If a grocery store has a beer and wine section and one of their employees is on lunch and bought food – are they not allowed by law to sit at one of the tables in that section during their lunch break – not clocked in at the time

    Reply
  5. We are a limited winery and our questions are the following:

    Are we permitted to sell vinegar produced from our wine?
    Are there any label requirements or restrictions?

    Reply
    • Rich,

      I believe so. There is no law that says there has to be alcohol in the product you sell. I don’t think it would be legal to sell offsite, but probably ok to do so from the winery. If you want to sell to grocery stores, you’d probably need to do some further research.

      Reply
  6. Thank you for this article! Between it and the comments, it’s illuminating. PA has a ways to go to come into the 21st Century regarding the PLCB and alcohol laws. It’s so frustrating as a winery to try and keep track of all the arcane things, not to mention the amount of taxes and fees levied at wineries, distilleries, and breweries. It’s a wonder any of us can stay in business. That being said, we’re having some confusion over the “shipping” aspect and taxes. If we deliver wine locally to a restaurant and/or a customer (without going through a shipping service…it’s just us driving it to them), what taxes apply to that? Is there a delivery-type tax? The winemaker thought he saw a rule that for every delivery there is a $5.00 fee we have to pay, but I can’t seem to find that regulation. Thanks for keeping us updated!

    Reply
  7. Is a winery allowed to purchase wine by the case from another winery a few miles away, both are in PA, and then rebrand with their own labels to resell in their store.

    Reply
  8. Question:

    I’m a wholesaler of wines in NYC and have a customer in PA with a Licensed Bar-Restaurant, they want to buy from here to sell in their business.
    Does we need an special Permit to sell to that bar-restaurant ?

    Reply
    • Amilcar,

      Thanks for the question. You can’t sell directly to a licensed restaurant. You’ll need to clear through a PA distributor first.

      However, a winery can sell directly to a individual. That is typically how product get into PA without having to be listed with the PLCB.

      Reply
  9. One of my clients sells promotional items. One way they do that is to fulfill gifts through Company stores. Lets say a car dealer sets up a Company through my promotional client. The store can be accessed by employees of the Company to purchase on their own or to provide gifts to clients. You buy a car from the dealer and the salesman and the dealer want to send you a bottle of wine from a winery that ships directly to customers. The winery honors the shipment to the customer but the bill is paid by the promotional items client and then rebilled to the auto dealer. There is no markup by the promotional firm to the auto dealer. Does either the dealer or the promotional Company need any sort of Pa license. They are buying but not reselling although someone could argue that the promotional Company is reselling to the auto dealer even though there is no markup. The promotional Company would like to accommodate this client because they do other business with them but don’t want any issues.

    Reply
    • Steve,

      Interesting question. If the wine is shipped from a winery directly to a customer, that is probably legal. If it goes through an intermediary, probably not. The issue revolves around an enticement to purchase. If the PLCB (the regulatory body) sees the wine as an enticement to purchase something else (say a car) then your client may get into trouble.

      Reply
  10. So what is the reason Amazon has P ennsylvania as one of the states it will not deliver wine to? What is the catch?

    Reply
  11. On the Website, Wine.com, I see that they ship wine to Pennsylvania. When I asked their online representative if they can ship to Pennsylvania, the representative said that they can ship from their New York warehouse. Is this true / correct?

    Reply
    • It’s a gray area in the enforcement of PA law. On paper, shipping wine into PA is only legal if a common carrier is bonded. FedEx no longer ships wine into PA, for instance.

      Many wine shops continue to ship into PA simply because the state has not enforced the law systematically, and there are questions if they can do so with their limited resources. That said, shops like Wine Library have been targeted by PLCB and they no longer ship into the state.

      Reply
  12. I am trying to put together a Spirits fundraiser for a non profit and I need some clarification.
    Are wineries,breweries and distillers permitted to sell at a tasting event? If so, what is required of them and of me?

    Reply
    • Bernadette,

      Thanks for the question. Beyond permitting issues, you also have to be aware of the liabilities you are exposed to via dram shop laws. This is beyond the scope of what I can answer here in the comments section. I’d strongly suggest talking with a lawyer versed on this subject before making any hard and fast plans. There are a one or two such folks who have contributed here. You may want to look them up.

      Reply
  13. As a limited winery, am I allowed to sell my wine directly to a licensed grocery store that sells wine and beer?

    Reply
      • Thank you for your reply. Since we are allowed to sell directly to the grocery store, what license is the grocery store required to have that allows them to purchase from a PA approved limited winery?

      • what are the laws on how a limited winery gets paid by a licensed wine selling grocery store?

      • I am considering opening a small wine shop and tasting room that specializes in less well known wineries in Napa and Sonoma. If I understand the info above, I would have to purchase the wine from PALCB and probably wouldn’t find the wines that I’d like to showcase?

      • If the winery is part of the SLO system in PA, then a private wine shop will be able to sell those wines. That said, PA is a tough and unique market. If you don’t have experience/training in the field I would not recommend opening a private wine shop.

  14. If small package carriers such as UPS and FedEx are licensed to deliver wine in the state, how does that affect the contractors (S Corps) they use to make deliveries? Are they covered under the license of UPS and FedEx or will they need to become an approved carrier as well?

    Reply
    • John,

      Per Federal law, only common carriers can deliver alcohol to consumers. If a contractor is shipping directly to a consumer, and are not a licensed carrier, then they are possibly in violation of the Webb-Kenyon Act.

      That only relates to shipping to consumers. If a contractor is shipping to a licensed establishment (restaurant, store, etc) intrastate, that is a different story.

      Reply
  15. Maybe I missed this somewhere but are PA residents allowed to purchase alcohol out of state and bring it back over the border along with this new law?

    Reply
      • Found a wine at a restaurant that I rather enjoyed. When I checked with the local PA Wine & Spirits store, I was told that they only sell it to bars and restaurants. I’m a southern man and have family in GA. I found out that you can buy this wine in just about any liquor store in GA. I’m not going to admit to doing anything illegal publicly. But I will say, screw the PLCB! It sure is some good wine. :-)

  16. A question about Direct Shipping, if this thread is still open. This article says regarding Direct Shipping to PA

    “Wineries can now ship directly to consumers, up to 36 cases annually. The law does not allow retail wine stores to ship to PA, only wineries.”

    The text of the law that I found appears to contradict that.

    Section 488 (b) Notwithstanding any other provision of this act or law [to the contrary], a person licensed by the board or another state or country as a producer[, supplier, importer, wholesaler, distributor or retailer] of wine and who obtains a direct wine shipper license as provided for in this section may ship [up to nine liters per month of] up to thirty-six cases…

    Can you clarify?

    Reply
    • It does seem to state that a retailer could ship to PA, and many of us want that to be true. Sadly, if you dig into how they define a “direct wine shipper” in another section of the law you realize they will only give those shipping licenses to wineries:

      “DIRECT WINE SHIPPER” SHALL MEAN A PERSON [OUTSIDE THIS COMMONWEALTH WHO OBTAINS A LICENSE FROM] LICENSED AS A PRODUCER OF WINE BY THE BOARD [TO ACCEPT] OR BY ANOTHER STATE OR COUNTRY THAT ACCEPTS ORDERS PLACED FOR WINE FROM WITHIN THIS COMMONWEALTH. [BY THE INTERNET AND WHO SHIPS OR FACILITATES IN ANY WAY SHIPMENT OF WINE BY A DELIVERY AGENT OR COMMON CARRIER
      TO A PENNSYLVANIA LIQUOR STORE.] THE TERM INCLUDES A LIMITED WINERY.

      Reply
  17. How does the new PA law affect shipping from PA? Can we shi a bottle or two to family or friends for special occasions and so on?

    Reply
    • The laws on shipping from the state are not affected, except that many more states will allow shipping. This is because PA is now considered a “Reciprocal Shipping State”. The main issue now isn’t PA, but the state your family lives in. If that state allows shipments of wine from outside their borders, go for it.

      Reply
  18. I worked for the PLCB at the retail level for three years, and I can assure everyone that the new wine law will NOT lead to more full-time jobs.
    The union “representing” the PLCB clerks is not interested in adding more full-time employees, because two part-time employees, who get no benefits that matter, pay more union dues (62.5% of full-time dues per head x 2 = 125%) than one full-time employee.

    The major effect for employees under the new law is that their Sundays, with the new hours of 11 am to 7 PM, will now be totally screwed up. What can you do on Sunday before 11 am and after 7 pm,
    assuming travel time and getting ready for work?

    This is another example of that famous great lie: I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.

    Reply
    • Thank you for your input. Getting the scoop from someone who works at a Wine & Spirits store is always appreciated.

      While the extended hours aren’t ideal, nothing is ideal in this law or the situation at hand. The tension is always going to be there. After all, PLCB wine stores are a retail endeavour with union employees working under a state agency that is selling products to a population that wants a free market solution.

      Compromises and frustrations are pretty much what we all can expect moving forward. That said, you are also the only wine store employees (that I know of) with union protection.

      Reply
  19. We have just taken another step backward for all the reasons Tom Walk of the National a wine retailers mentioned in his addendum. I had the good fortune to be able to purchase wines from national wine distributed Laithwaites for two years. It was a much needed and enjoyed relief from the archaic PLCB controlled system in PA. That company sold us competitively priced wines from all over the world including the USA . Under the new rules which were supposed to be a step forward instead of backward as a grown taxpaying adult I will no longer be able to purchase wine from this company. This is literally sour Grapes!

    Reply
    • Under the old laws, this was illegal already, so we have some information on this issue. Outside of a few cease and desist letters, the state has not enforced this law. My contacts in law enforcement tell me it is all but unenforceable. I am also told that many companies will continue to ship wines into PA.

      Reply
  20. PLCB is typical of when the government gets involved and knows nothing about what they are doing. You get corruption, high prices, low selection. Being a wine lover I would have to move and could not live in that state. As a winery I had one of the top selling wines in my category in the entire system for 5 years, but did not grease enough wheels at either the distributor or state level and without warning was just eliminated even though we sold over 6000 cases a year. I hope they actually want to get better–I doubt it and as one person said probably better to just get rid of and do business like the rest of the country. The problem with that is the state just makes TOO much money for doing little or nothing

    Reply
  21. i’d like to hear from someone who actually knows how things work in PA. do wholesalers sell wines to the PLCB at higher prices than wholesalers do in other states? is the 30% retail markup accurate?- or are there other things added in like the jonestown flood tax? in other states retail markup is often 40% or more – though some chains are a bit lower. my impression is that PA wine prices are higher than those in Jersey; but i’m not really certain why. i doubt if jersey retailers use a markup of 30% or even less – probably it is more. so the wholesale price must be the problem – but again i’m not sure why. because they can?

    Reply
    • David,

      Pricing can be higher for most wines, but much less for others. There is an algo for pricing in PA that included a much higher tax burden than most other states. However, the real pricing disparities come from how the state negotiates. In a private wine shop, wholesale pricing is fluid. At a state agency like the PLCB, it is not. Pricing is set on an annual basis and according to agency rules. That means that prices in PA are often too high (at or near the list price) or too low (at or below wholesale prices). It doesn’t make for an easy shopping experience.

      Reply
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    Reply
  23. Well, the best, most satisfactory bit from this ruling is that wineries in CA, OR, WA, or wherever will now be able to ship door to door in PA for a modicum fee that, given the size of the PA market, most producers will opt for; I have already received notice from a number of the wineries I buy from and I expect more will join in. Going forward, I won’t have to schlep my Turley zins all the way from Manhattan. I’ll settle for tax and a limit of 36 bottles which, hopefully, will go up in the future.

    The rest of it is an unfortunate though typical mix bag. The private wine shops may turn into a good thing if they can manage to keep prices fair despite the arcane fees they’ll be saddled with, and only if they offer selections above the radar of the usually dim-witted state buyers. But, for the customer, what the heck is that four bottles limit? It’s preposterous. What prevents me from building a case by spreading my visits? Add daft to preposterous.

    As for the better hours, the so-called premium collections stores already open Sundays. OK, now some, not all by any means, of the dismal regular stores, with their oh-hum selections, will have Sunday hours. I’m impressed and, gee whiz, lottery tickets to go with that nip of rot gut vodka? That I most certainly look forward to.

    And while prices on mainstream offerings may well go down, as Mr. Wallace too optimistically predicts, I’m betting the few, more obscure, read interesting, wines will be pricier after August 8.

    Reply
    • Some very good points. I agree with most of what you say. I am rarely optimistic when it comes to the PLCB:

      “Pricing for higher quality wines (and spirits) will be more volatile. In some instances we may see an increase in pricing, especially in spirits and collectible wines.”

      The new structure will allow discounting on national brands, which means more generic wines, and less interesting wines on the shelves. Oh, and there is nothing in the law that says you can’t simply ring up a 4 bottles as many times as you like.

      Reply
  24. Hey Albert (Turzai) Brooks, why do you hate employing people? “Only in Pa. would lottery ticket sales result in more staffing” So what? Seems that for a lawmaker you really don’t like people to be gainfully employed, and then you would deny them food stamps and any other aid after you take their jobs away. You are the biggest bucket of sh*t I have ever seen. I would love to see you unemployed, and it may happen next election. One could only hope.

    Reply
  25. If you wish to insert my comment here it is but I’m not going to waste any more of my time with it.

    Only in PA state stores would lottery ticket sales result in more staffing, the rest of the country it is part of regular sales clerk duties. Even so, with just over 45% of the PLCB employees being part time or seasonal I doubt that full time employment will go up much.

    The PLCB has had total control of their hours (except Sundays and Holidays) since 1951. If they wanted to be open from 7AM till 2 AM just like a bar they could have done that already. In previous comments the Board has already stated that only half of their stores would be open on Sunday or about double what they have now. We’ll see if they hold to that or make the attempt to open all the stores on Sunday.

    Make no mistake about it, variable pricing is meant to cost the consumer more. Every one of the Democratic “modernization” bills mentioned $50-125 million more “profit” because of variable pricing. The PLCB could have negotiated prices if they wanted to this entire time to give the citizens better deals but they choose not to. For example: http://noplcb.blogspot.com/2016/03/how-plcb-buying-power-incompetence-has.html Now they are forced to do some price/cost analysis on the top 150 selling items – not because they want to but because they have to. In any case the reason for negotiation is not to get better prices for the consumer, it is to increase the margin for the PLCB to pay for their bloated business model.

    For the citizens this bill is mostly smoke and mirrors. Wine might be available at 10% of the grocery stores in the state and beer in 5% of gas stations but as long as the PLCB is involved in retail and wholesale the market will never be anything like the states on our borders where price, selection and service are determined by return customers who shop at private stores not because they have no other choice but because they want to.

    We need to rid ourselves of the PLCB not just put new paint the PA liquor jail and lipstick on the PLCB pig.

    Reply
    • In this arena (wine sale privatization) Pennsylvania once again distinguishes itself as being the most backward state in the nation. One must ask why this occurs, and no rational explanation will ever be found, other than “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”

      Reply
  26. A few issues need to be clarified. First, the conversion of a beer-only “E” license to a full privilege “R” license for $30,000 is NOT available in Philadelphia. Second, both “E” and “R” licenses require seating for at least 30 patrons and preparation of food on premises. Therefore, opening a wine shop will require more than just stocking wine inventory on shelves. Last, “R” licenses in Philadelphia are currently valued at $185,000 – $205,000. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding the legislative changes or PLCB licensing in general. http://www.gmliquorlaw.com

    Reply
    • Matthew,

      Thank you for the clarification. Where in the law does is state that upgrading from an “E” license is not available for Philly?

      I understand the issue about the seating requirements. However, those rules have been overlooked for so long that is would be hard to enforce them now.

      Reply
  27. After reading through HB 1690(163 pgs) We had to lower our expectations on this opportunity. The cost to retailers will inhibit competing with “State Stores”. This is unfortunate because private business brings the customer experience to a higher level. It’s simply going to be a convenience sale. The Margin will not allow for all the bells and whistles along with paying the bills.

    Reply
    • I don’t mind paying a bit extra (over state store price) for a nicer experience in selecting and buying a few nice bottles. Does this law allow for wine tasting bars with the tasting machines? Love those.

      Reply

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