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A PLCB Christmas: It's no bargain

| Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

Christmastime is a bargain hunter's delight as retailers of all types and sizes offer sales and, in many cases, some exceptional deals. That is, except for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board at its government-run, Prohibition-era liquor stores.

Oh, the PLCB gets into the holiday spirit — sort of. On Cyber Monday, for instance, the state booze board offered free shipping for online purchases. Not to your home but to the state liquor store of your choice, reports Dawn Meling for the Commonwealth Foundation.

Then there's the PLCB's Holiday Gift Guide, which recommends what alcohol is most suitable for the “trendsetter” or the “business associate,” Ms. Meling writes. Surely this advice syncs with the PLCB's dual responsibilities of education and enforcement of responsible drinking, right?

In stark contrast are Washington state's year-old privatized liquor stores, which actually compete for sales to the benefit of their customers. According to published reports, those stores are “pulling out all the stops” to extend customer service.

Pennsylvania's liquor stores don't pull out so much as a wine cork.

“No matter how they mask it, the PLCB can't serve consumer needs like the private sector can,” notes Ms. Meling.

Perhaps next year at this time, if state lawmakers get off the dime, a different seasonal spirit will prevail at Pennsylvania's liquor stores: the power of the free market.

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