Liquor Group Prez: Malloy Plan Dooms Stores

Alan Wilensky says if the governor's proposal for Sunday sales goes through, most mom and pop stores will close within three years.


This legislative session, Gov. Dannel Malloy is proposing an overhaul of the way

And while one aspect of his plan has drawn the most attention, , it is the series of other proposed changes that will have a huge effect on the package store industry, Connecticut Package Store Association President Alan Wilensky said Tuesday.

“Our numbers show that if this is passed, we will see a wave of closures in the first year,” said Wilensky, who also serves on the . “And within three years, the locally owned package store will be mostly gone.”

The Changes

Under the current laws, alcohol is sold to all licensed buyers in the state at the same price. So if, for example, a keg of Budweiser is being sold for $50 (not the real price), all licensed buyers in the state can buy that keg for $50, regardless of how many they buy.

Malloy is proposing to eliminate that regulation. That would allow bigger companies that buy more alcohol to get a discount for buying in bulk, thereby allowing them to sell the same product for less.

“They are going to jack up the prices against me if I’m just buying five or 10 cases of beer,” said Wilensky, who owns Max’s Package Store in East Lyme. “Whereas will be able to work out a deal because they are buying 1,000 cases of beer.”

This will also limit the variety in stores. If buying in bulk saves money, owners will buy more of one product rather than a variety of products, Wilensky said.

“Right now, I sell 70 different vodkas,” he said. “If this is passed, I’ll sell three.”

Currently, people are allowed to own two package stores. Malloy is proposing to allow people to own up to six package stores. Also, he is proposing to eliminate the law that says stores cannot sell alcohol products for less than what they bought them for, as a way to entice customers.

Wilensky is opposed to all of this, along with several other aspects of the proposal that he says favors big businesses over small ones. The larger point is that Malloy is trying to get this through in two months, when an overhaul this dramatic should take at least two years, Wilensky said.

“He is trying to fix something that really isn’t broken,” Wilensky said. “Because there is a perception by the governor that there is a problem. And there really isn’t.”

Good For The Consumer?

Many of the regulations that exist in the package store industry are unique to the package store industry, such as limiting the number of package stores a person can own to mandating all manufacturers selling at products at the same price, regardless of the size of the order. That is the way it should be, because alcohol is a “special product,” Wilensky said.

“It is not like milk or Pepsi, it is a regulated substance,” he said. “We limit who can buy it, and we limit who can sell it.”

By removing many of these regulations, it could push down the cost of alcohol to consumers, at least for a period, Wilensky said. But it also will put hundreds of store owners out of work and greatly limit the variety of alcohol products being sold, he said.

“The vast number of local, independent stores will cease to exist,” he said. “At that point, what you get is limited selection and the control of the pricing of the market.”

Jimbo March 12, 2012 at 02:17 PM
That would involve the Mom & Pops to actually band together and work together to get a better deal. Why should they do that when our current system of liquor laws does the work for them. I say pass the laws and let free trade and capitalism rule like the Republicans say it will.
lorraine riess March 12, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Malloy is acting like a Republican on this one. Our small towns are struggling and if Costco and Walmart are allowed to sell alcohol we'll see more vacant storefronts in our small towns. This needs to go the other way.
Eric March 12, 2012 at 03:04 PM
My industry and company competes directly with "box" stores. Though it is tough at times, I am for free trade and free market principles. Keep government out of business decisions like this that only take away freedoms of individuals. I'll add further that I have had to compete against the box stores by offering a better, personalized product at a better price and my customer base is growing and happy. There is a serious moral hazard when groups seek a forceful solution from the governement to aid them in competing against the competition. I am an adult, in a free society I should be allowed to purchase anything I want from whomever I want at what ever price the seller and I agree upon. Peter above made an excellent point that the Package Store Association could band together and get the same volume discounts as the likes of Stop & Shop etc. The issue of tax reveune is unfortunately used as a bullet point to prove additional benefits or to prove how horrible the mentionable political party is. Americans need to remember what freedom is. Freedom is the freedom to succeed or fail without the help of the government. Alcohol should be for sale to adults all day every day by whomever wants to sell it.
Wes March 13, 2012 at 02:07 AM
In Canada you can go anywhere for Beer and Wine. (As in most US States). BUT in Canada you must go to a LIquor Commission Store to get anything more "potent". In Connecticut, Most folks in the State are "used-to" the "Blue-Laws" and buy in-advance. However, folks on the "Borders" can be LAZY, and get "stuck without booze" Knowing that they can get a "buzz" on Sunday by driving to another Nearby State. THIS also annoys the CT Package Store Owners situated on the Borders of CT, because THEY lose possible Saturday Sales while folks slip across the borders to get stuff on Sunday. This our ONLY Problem. We are Tough, and can Live with it! - There's NO REASON to put MORE people Out Of Business by CREATING NEW State Laws with No Vision ! Are you Nuts Mr.Government?
Bob Jones March 15, 2012 at 09:58 PM
theres 8000 mom and pop package stores in CT, if this proposition does happen so many people will be out of work. The 8000 owners will have no source of income the employees will have no work, far more than 8000 people will be out of work. This would do far more bad than good, it really makes no sense at all. Our small towns are struggling so your just going to make it easier for the Wal-Mart and Costco to make more money....good thinking.


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