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Monday, April 27, 2009

PA Liquor Stores Want a Better Monopoly

Brian O’Neill with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported yesterday that the PA Liquor Control Board (PLCB) has spent $3.7 million to develop a new name for their stores in an attempt to attract more customers. Apparently, “Wines & Spirits” is far too appropriate and not misleading enough for Joe Conti, chief executive officer of the PLCB who has compared the rebranding to the Pennsylvania State Lottery’s cute and cuddly mascot, Gus.

When private companies use cute animals on potentially hazardous products (remember Camel cigarettes?), they’re obviously trying to encourage a younger audience. However, when a state monopoly does the same thing, it’s simply an attempt to “maximize our returns for the people of Pennsylvania.”

O’Neill doesn’t state the obvious wasteful spending involved here, but he does point out, “[Conti]'s starting with 100 percent market share and is guaranteed the same share at the end…I'm guessing you could call one "Head Lice," another "IRS" and yet another "Cleveland Browns" and they'd still do well.”

While “Cleveland Browns” is a bit of a stretch, the point made is clear. The government hates having the (accurate) perception of a state monopoly while continuing to ignore the public benefits from private liquor.

Click here for a related post on Sen. Rob Wonderling’s push to privatize the industry.

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