State tries ‘convenience’ in beer sales
Rack up another milestone in the ever-changing landscape of booze sales in Pennsylvania.
Some state residents can now do something their counterparts in other states no doubt take for granted.
They can pop into their local convenience store and grab a six-pack of beer. At least in one store. Remember, this is Pennsylvania. The state continues to take baby steps when it comes to dragging their regulations concerning the sale of booze out of the Dark Ages.
Yesterday Wawa jumped into the beer sales market in Pennsylvania.
Yes, you can now buy beer at a Wawa. So long as it’s the one on Naamans Creek Road in Concord, Delaware County.
But just how “convenient” this offering is depends on your definition of the word, and it has nothing do with a “convenience” store, and everything to do with Pennsylvania’s outdated laws.
While Wawa has sold beer for years at their hundreds of stores in Virginia and Florida, this is the first store in Pennsylvania to offer customers the ability to grab a six-pack on the way home.
It’s also the only one — at least for now.
That is at least in part due to the labyrinth of hoops they have to jump through, as well as the bureaucratic mess that still stands for progress in this state.
All of this stems from a bill passed by the Legislature last summer that paved the way for wine and beer sales in grocery stores, bars and hotels.
It also opened the door to beer sales in convenience stores. Basically, any holder of a restaurant license can now get in the fun — with some restrictions, of course. For convenience stores such as Wawa, that posed a dilemma, namely the restaurant. That’s why Wawa built the sit-down restaurant into their Concord facility when they decided to renovate what was already one of their larger stores.
The law requires beer sales be limited to a separate part of the store, and that the beer must be purchased — and paid for — there. In other words, you won’t be able to simply pick up a six-pack and pay for it along with your sandwich or other munchies. They must be done separately, just as they are at supermarkets that offer beer sales.
Yes, this is how Pennsylvania defines convenience.
Customers are limited to buying two six-packs at a time, or if you want to sit down in the restaurant and enjoy a brew with your Shorti, a single beer.
Then in November, the state jazzed up the beer laws a bit more. After complaints from beer distributors, they lifted the longtime restriction that limited them to selling beer by the case or keg. They now can sell you a six-pack, the same as supermarkets can.
Wawa has indicated that at least for now, this is a onestore opportunity, although they indicated they certainly would monitor how popular beer sales are in Concord as they consider possibly expanding to other stores.
But remember that existing Wawas, in particular many of their older stores, will be hardpressed to meet the state’s restaurant requirement without a major renovation.
Wawa first started the push to sell beer at the Concord store back in the summer of 2015. Yes, that’s how long it takes. Some residents opposed the move, and supervisors heard from them before finally granting the license to Wawa.
In the meantime, we again ask why Pennsylvania remains in the booze business. It is almost inevitably done better, cheaper and with more convenience for customers by the private sector.
We again await the next privatization push in Harrisburg, and wonder if this will be the year Pennsylvania finally comes out of the Dark Ages.
For now, if you GottaHavva beer with that Shorti, you’ll have to head southeast to Concord.
In Pennsylvania, that’s what stands for progress.
The state continues to take baby steps when it comes to dragging their regulations concerning the sale of booze out of the Dark Ages.