Monday, October 10, 2016

A Respectable Do-Over

Recommended reading for your Monday: this post by Bill Woodcock on The 53, "Wegman's Beverage Boomerang." I have been meaning to revisit this topic and seeing Bill's post jogged my memory.

Like Bill, I was originally opposed to a liquor store as a part of the Wegman's retail establishment. My opposition was two-fold:

  • It was in violation of the law as it stands
  • The ownership arrangement was unbelievably sketchy. (Remember Mike Smith?)

On the other hand, it was clear that consumers were really excited by the prospect of having the liquor store conveniently located near the grocery. Many of them were dismayed/ticked off to see the business voted down by the liquor board at that time.

What I like about the new proposal is that Wegman's has separated itself completely from the ownership side and has partnered with a known and trusted local business: Cindy's Spirits of Elkridge. I feel like they have done their homework on this and are coming back with a plan that respects the community.

I am not at all impressed by local businesses that are teaming up together to oppose this on the basis of preventing competition. Make no mistake, they appear to be the loudest voices right now. From The 53 post:

"Third, there was concern raised a few years ago about competition-- that a Wegman's liquors would stifle competition and put other small business owners out of work. Again, not my experience from looking at other areas. Wegman's prices are competitive, but there are plenty of other alcohol outlets in the immediate vicinity to Wegman's stores. Think the area around Total Wine and Beverage in Laurel. It's like that-- and what, the closest liquor store from Total Wine is what, maybe a quarter mile away? And besides-- can anyone remember when a liquor store went out of business in Howard County? No, I can't either."

If you are one of the consumers that support this enterprise, you might want to check out their advocacy page on Facebook: Howard County Citizens for Consumer Choice.

Truth in advertising: our family rarely goes into liquor stores. I have the occasional drink in a restaurant, but alcohol at home just isn't a part of our family culture. So it won't truly matter to me, one way or the other, how this matter is resolved. I do think it's of interest to my readers, though. If this is something that local consumers support, it looks like they'll need to be significantly vocal in order to make their case.







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