Alcohol

State Smiling Lessons

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Most retail outfits catch on to the "be courteous to your customers" thing pretty early on. But most retail outlets don't have a government-enforced monopoly on what they sell. So in Pennsylvania, where all liquor and wine must be sold in state-run stores…

The state's Liquor Control Board is spending more than $173,000 to try to make workers friendlier and more well-mannered at the nearly 650 stores it operates. The board says it wants to make sure clerks are saying "hello," "thank you" and "come again" to customers shopping for wine and spirits.

It has hired Pittsburgh-based consulting firm Solutions 21 to help coach store managers so they can instruct their clerks on issues such as how to greet customers and where to stand. Training begins this month.

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  1. Who goes to a liquor store for friendly service?

  2. Once Obama nationalizes everything, he’s going to send all you right-wmg loons to re-eduaction camps. Losers with names like Radley will be able to change them. Vladimir?

  3. When are they going to get smiling lessons at teh state run marijuana store?

  4. cheaper solution:

    “Hey fuckface, a bottle of Jack and a case of Bud, you goldbricking fat piece of shit state employee”

  5. Sometimes it is hard to tell when Lefiti is being sarcastic.

  6. Can any Pennsylvania residents, either current or former, explain the reasoning behind state run liquor stores?

  7. PR,

    A bit of advice – it is best not to piss off someone who is handling your food, your beverages or your medical care.

  8. It has hired Pittsburgh-based consulting firm Solutions 21

    Raising, naturally, the question of which state official has a brother-in-law working at Solutions 21.

  9. “Can any Pennsylvania residents, either current or former, explain the reasoning behind state run liquor stores?”

    When I lived in Ohio we had state run liquor stores. My understanding was it was a leftover regulation from the end of Prohibition.

  10. Thanks PIRS.

    Wow, Ohio and Pennsylvania make Illinois look positively progressive when it comes to liquor laws.

  11. Yeah. OK, well, uh, we found, uh, this mouse in a bottle of YOUR BEER, eh. Like, we was at a party and, uh, a friend of ours – a COP – had some, and HE PUKED. And he said, uh, come here and get free beer or, uh, he’ll press charges.

  12. It’s odd when the entity in charge of providing a service would really rather you not purchase it.

    It’s not like the store managers/cashiers are getting a bonus for increasing sales. Customers are simply an inconvenience.

  13. “Can any Pennsylvania residents, either current or former, explain the reasoning behind state run liquor stores?”

    There is none. Plus, if you want to buy a case of beer (beer is sold at bars and restaurants) you gotta buy 2 12-packs and make 2 trips.

  14. “Hey fuckface, a bottle of Jack and a case of Bud, you goldbricking fat piece of shit state employee”

    I didn’t know that you had to go to the liquor monopoly to get Bud in Pennsylvania.

  15. I can fix the little problem they have in 5 minutes, or you get a refund. ok here it goes STOP IT! STOP BEING RUDE OR WE WILL FIRE YOUR ASS. NOW STOP IT JUST STOP IT. There problem solved, anyone who is not being friendly enough will be fired. no money spent and problem fixed

  16. Well said, bubba.

  17. Nittany Cat must have never bought beer in PA. You get cases at the beer distributor, which is only allowed to sell cases. If you want to buy less than a case, you have to get takeout from a bar. And I think you can only get a maximum of two 6-packs from a bar.

    Information FAIL.

  18. Sometimes it is hard to tell when Lefiti is being sarcastic.

    Sometimes it is hard to tell when Lefiti is being Lefiti.

  19. Lefiti, I feel your pain. I too was chronically unpopular in high school, and bitter as a result. But graduation has long since passed, and such things cease to matter within ten minutes of getting your diploma. Let it go, dude. Let it go.

  20. It has hired Pittsburgh-based consulting firm Solutions 21 to help coach store managers so they can instruct their clerks on issues such as how to greet customers and where to stand. Training begins this month.

    Unless they grew up in caves, they know how to do these things already, even if they’ve received no training other than growing up watching TV shows. It’s motivation that they’re lacking.

  21. It’s motivation that they’re lacking.

    Like I said.

  22. The only upside to state run liquor stores is that liquor is price controlled, and therefore cheaper than private stores.

  23. This does not make up for the seemingly random “strategic” locations of stores and shitty hours, though.

  24. It’s state run ( I believe at the county level) in Maryland, also. Restaurants buy the stuff from the county dispensary or whatever it’s called and retail customers shop at the county stores in strip malls.

  25. Every state is different. Some have weird ass laws and special interests keeping them that way, while other states will be more liberal in that area, but messed up in others.

    In California you can buy alchohol from regular (non-state) liquor stores, from grocery stores, and even beer from convenience stores. But you need a license and there are only a fixed number of licenses, and it’s almost impossible to get one. There is no list for when licenses become available, you only get one if you’re politically connected, or none of your competitors are politically connected.

  26. The thing with Ohio must be old. I moved from MD to Ohio and was surprised to find liquor in the local Wal-Mart and most grocery stores. Many gas stations have signs advertising Sunday sales and the CVS sign says “Hey, we sell wine.”

  27. bubba | March 9, 2009, 5:16pm | #

    It’s odd when the entity in charge of providing a service would really rather you not purchase it.

    Like the power company? Mine is always asking me to conserve.

  28. The only upside to state run liquor stores is that liquor is price controlled, and therefore cheaper than private stores.

    That was NOT the case with state-run liquor stores in Virginia. In college, I remember visiting friends in Maryland and being shocked by how cheap all the booze was.

    I threw one hell of a party the weekend after I got home, too.

  29. But you need a license and there are only a fixed number of licenses, and it’s almost impossible to get one. There is no list for when licenses become available, you only get one if you’re politically connected, or none of your competitors are politically connected.

    Yep, that’s pretty much the PA situation in a nutshell…

  30. State stores in Pa have the monopoly on liquor and wine. 20 years ago, they were incredibly surly and the policy was they could offer no advice on selection. If a naive teetotaler went to buy wine as a gift, the clerk couldn’t even tell them if red wine was traditionally paired with beef or fish.

    More recently, the state has realized that the liquor stores are a cash cow. The PA government is the single largest purchaser of wine in the world. They’ve allowed creidt card purchases, and some stores are even open on the Lord’s Sabbath! God has seen fit to punish PA by putting even more filthy lucre into the treasury which, if the old testament is any guide, will surely lead to some sort of leprosy outbreak.

    Many govenerors have campaigned on the platform of eliminating the state store system, all have failed. For one, the union for liquor store employees is entrenched deep in the legislature. The union president has candidly remarked that he has been offered numerous political favors and even illegal bribes if he would sell out the members and allow liberlization of the liquor trade. Second, the money from liquor sales keeps PA taxes low. Politicians also occasionally cite statistics that suggest PA has lower underage drinking rates and drunk driving fatalities than neighboring states as a reason to preserve the status quo.

  31. @BDB, as a PA resident I often make a run over to Ohio to purchase wine. The price controls in PA do NOT offer lower prices.

    The PLCB is a joke and should be shut down.

  32. That was NOT the case with state-run liquor stores in Virginia.

    Plus, at least in Norfolk, all of the ABC stores are in really shitty neighborhoods.

    You can buy beer at grocery stores though, and most of them have a pretty decent selection.

    Pennsylvania sucks.

  33. You can buy beer and wine practically anywhere in OH – state still has monopoly on all other liquor purchases.

    State with weirdest liquor laws has got to be UT, hands down.

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