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PLCB bureaucracy sets hours for holiday stores, promises more convenience

By   /   December 19, 2012  /   No Comments

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

HARRISBURG – If you want to enjoy a little Christmas wine or New Year’s bubbly in Pennsylvania, you best not wait to buy it.

After 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve and 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, all state-owned liquor stores – which means all liquor stores in the Keystone State – will be closed, in accordance with a decision made behind-closed-doors in Harrisburg by the bureaucracy that oversees the roughly 620 liquor stores.

NO WINE FOR YOU: All liquor stores in Pennsylvania will be shuttered by 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve and 8 p.m. on New Years’ Eve, by decree of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

But the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board says it’s trying to make it easier for customers who need that last-minute bottle of Cabernet to go with their Christmas ham.

More than 50 state stores normally closed Monday because of low sales volume will be open on Christmas Eve and New Years’ Eve this year, despite both holidays falling on Monday.

“This is a very busy time of year, so we want to be as responsive to consumers as we can,” said Stacy Kriedeman, spokeswoman for the PLCB. “That’s what the scheduling is based on.”

The decision about which stores are open and their hours is not made by the board members of the PLCB. Instead, it is left to the Retail Operations wing of the agency, Kriedeman said.

The Retail Operations section of the PLCB consists of three regions and 26 “districts” charged with overseeing all details of the day-to-day operations of the state liquor stores, including staffing, training, in-store marketing, inventory control, equipment and software upgrades and implementation of best practices to improve business operations, according to the agency’s website.

Opponents of the PLCB’s bureaucratic liquor monopoly say daily operations of businesses should not be ruled by governmental decree.

“Being responsive to consumers shouldn’t be a certain time of year issue; it’s an everyday issue for those truly putting customers and taxpayers first,” said Jay Ostrich, communications director for the Commonwealth Foundation, a free market think tank that favors privatizing the state liquor system.

Utah is the only other state with state-owned liquor system such as Pennsylvania’s.

Gov. Tom Corbett and House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, vocally support privatization.

Legislation to do so was introduced last session but never received a full vote in either the state House or the state Senate. Similar legislation is expected to be introduced in early 2013, when the new session begins.

PA Independent asked how the PLCB arrived at its decision to open some stores for longer hours during the holidays. Kriedeman said a right-to-know request should be filed before that information would be made public.

Contact Boehm at [email protected] and follow @PAIndependent on Twitter.

— Edited by John Trump at [email protected]