Friday, May 6, 2011

Big Box Chains Buying Up State Liquor Licenses...

One of my pet peeves is grocery chains buying State Liquor Licenses and moving the State Store inside their big-box store.

Seems every time a major grocery chain buys a State liquor license to increase floor traffic for groceries (got to be the only reason) – and sometimes the only license in a small county – consumer choice goes DOWN.

It has happened with Giant Beagle in Lancaster, with the Pit Stop selling out, and now in Athens, with Kroger buying out Lucky Dog.

Go into any beer and liquor only store and look at the number of craft beers and specialty liquors. From my observation the choices decrease by at least two-thirds every time a chain takes over. In the case of Giant Beagle, it carries about 2/3 the number of beers sold by the Pit Stop. Krogers in Athens carries only about 1/8 of the beers that Lucky Dog carried. Pitiful.

I have heard that beer distributors operate much like suppliers in other industries. Chains deal with large distributors who can afford to buy shelf space and also provide a "bribe". It’s called a “rebate”, but it is basically a BID for business that the distributor guarantees the chain a lump sum up-front at contract time. If this is anything like my business, then those "rebates" are highly guarded secrets.

Be interested to know how accurate this is to the beer industry.

One thing I do know: grocery chains suck at selling craft beer.

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