For those of you who have the luxury of living in what we refer to as Free America (aka places like New Jersey), you may not realize that our state governments wants to help us control our intake of alcohol. For that reason, we have beer laws that forbid us from buying more than 2 packs at a time – unless that is, you go to a distributor, in which case you’re buying a case at a time. We are also only allowed to buy beer from bars, restaurants, and distributors. Many bars have a “take out” section where you can grab a six pack to take home with you.
Wegmans, the most fabulous grocery store in the world, realized that with cafes in each of their Pennsylvania locations, they could qualify as a restaurant-type establishment for a license to sell beer. Under the law, the PLCB recognized that they did indeed qualify and granted them licenses to sell beer. For the consumer, it’s still not as easy as picking up a pie at Wegmans. See, the beer can’t be sold with your groceries. You have to buy it in a closed off area of the store at separate registers. The only thing it makes any easier is that I don’t technically have to drive anywhere else. It still requires two trips to/from the car and two different transactions. They also don’t have the world’s best selection, though it is certainly better than most takeouts near us.
Other beer sellers got jealous and sued.
The Malt Beverage Distributors Association, which represents 450 beer distributors across the state, had challenged Wegmans’ license on a number of grounds.
The group says letting Wegmans sell beer would allow other supermarkets and big retailers to horn in on the beer-selling trade by establishing their own eating areas and applying for licenses to serve beer and sell six-packs.
That, the association warned, could put beer distributorships – many of them small mom-and-pop operations – out of business.
More from the distributor lobby:
Robert Hoffman, the attorney for the distributors, said the ruling puts them at a competitive disadvantage because supermarkets can offer “a zillion things to get you in the door.”
Hear that sound, Hoffman? That’s the world’s smallest violin.
How dare we consumers not be forced by the legislature and courts to buy from the companies who pay his salary! How dare competitors be allowed to offer more and different products! Boo freakin’ hoo, Hoffman. As a consumer, I think I’ll swing by Wegmans this weekend and pick up a six pack or two, grab a bite from their cafe, and knock my grocery shopping out for the week. Next week, I will also get in touch with my local lawmakers and ask them to ignore your lobby because as voters, we want more choice. Hell, maybe I’ll ask them to just consider disbanding the entire freakin’ system so we can buy as much or as little beer as we want at any damn store we want.