Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Amazingly enough, the whole "Driving to Wisconsin on a Sunday to Get Beer" tradition isn't as much fun as you'd think it would be

You know, once in a while I'm sympathetic to the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, our absurdly powerful alcohol lobby here in Minnesota, like when they talk about how selling beer and wine in the grocery stores will severely damage our little local liquor stores* here (which is a valid complaint, although the "But what about the children who will now be drunk and stumbling and hitting on your sister and singing karaoke at the top of their lungs in the aisles of our grocery stores?" way they try to sell it annoys me). But most of the time I just want to tell them to go to hell because they tend to act like such spoiled little brats with other things, like the apparent injustice of being able to be open on Sundays if they so choose:

"It's foolishness," says Phil Colich, owner of Hennepin Lake Liquor Store in Uptown. "I can't think of one [store owner] that would want to be open on Sundays. It's basically our only day off when you're in the wine and liquor business."

Oh no, not your day off! How horrible for you that you might have the option to be open and compete on Sundays just like pretty much every other business in the state? You poor little things.

Pretty simple. If you don't think it's beneficial for you to be open on Sunday, go on ahead and don't be open. Maybe your customers will continue being faithful to you and stocking up on liquor for the weekend, maybe they will choose to instead patronize a business that puts the convenience of it's customers over the convenience for it's owners. That's the chance you take.

Because see, that's what we here like to call the free market. Again, the beauty of it is that you don't have to be open if you don't want to be. The only thing that would make a store feel they have to be open is if they were worried about losing out on revenue to the competition that is open. Which pretty much makes the "There's no point because there's no revenue to be had" argument fall flat on its face, doesn't it? Meaning that the reality here is that you are being lazy jerks that not only want a government-mandated day off in order to level the playing field, but are also willing to take that "perk" at the expense of liquor stores at the border that are losing revenue on Sunday.

So do you want to take a guess as to how much sympathy I have for this alleged injustice?

*Edit - Oh, it just gets better. Mr. Stacy pointed out to me that MPR had a story up yesterday about the same guys throwing a fuss because Surly Brewing wants to open up a brewery full of awesome in Minnesota.

For those that aren't local, Surly is a local beer that is just killing it right now. They are an amazing success story. You probably haven't tasted it or heard of their products, because their tiny little brewery in Brooklyn Center just isn't providing them with enough space to brew enough to distribute outside the state - the demand in-state is just too high.

But oh no, Surly might want to do what pretty much every other major brewer in the United States does, and feature an area where you can visit their company, eat, and maybe grab a beer! And we all know, to be able to grab a beer at a brewery is absolute madness, which of course Minnesota had to clamp down on:

The only problem is that Surly needs to change the law in order to build the brewery and have a restaurant. That's because a law prohibits large brewers from owning a restaurant and bar for fear that they'll sell their beer at a lower prices than other bar owners.

And guess who wants to make sure that law stays the same?

A lobbyist for the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, which represents bar owners, told me they're against changing the law.

Because that's right folks, if I go to Surly's new brewery of awesome and have a Coffee Bender, this means that I will never patronize another bar or liquor store ever again.

Once again, it's completely petty of the MLBA, who ups the ante by offering this bit of thuggery:

It's even more simple if you say it the way my retailers say it: "you make it, we'll sell it" make it 'and' sell it, we won't buy from you".

Nice beer you got there. Would be such a shame if no one sold it.

And again, after blabbing on about "three-tier" distributing structure that most other states have abandoned due to the fact they are ripe with corruption, the MLBA again tries to promote their own selfish interest as some sort of noble cause, claiming that by not allowing Surly to serve beer at their brewery they are promoting "moderate consumption" because... what? That doesn't even make sense. None. And I have no idea why they are even trying to appeal to that, because the Lutherans** just don't care that much anymore - the moral reasons for Minnesota's silly liquor laws don't have any sway anymore. In reality, the only reason that MLBA has as much power as they do is that no one can get together a large, wealthy enough, and organized enough counter-strike to challenge them.

So honestly, Surly? Call that bluff. Because unlike a lot of other local brewers, you guys have enough clout that you can.

*Of course is should be pointed out that the liquor stores that actually try by keeping interesting stock and helpful staff on hand, like Surdyks or France44, would probably be fine.
**Inside joke, sorry.

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