The Thirsty Beagle: Support SQ 792 and support the state's good liquor stores

Monday, November 7, 2016

Support SQ 792 and support the state's good liquor stores

There are some great liquor stores out there.

With great people inside. Some of them know a whole heck of a lot more about their products than I do. A lot of them are really nice people, too, always friendly and welcoming. And some of them have really great selection in their store as well, with an abundance of locally made products.

I think of 2nd Street Wine in Edmond, Freeman's and The Well when I think of all these traits. Those are just places I frequent. I know there are plenty of others as well.

This blog is about State Question 792, but it's about liquor stores, too.

As I've written on the blog over the past several months, I don't buy many of the arguments being forwarded by the liquor store lobby on why Oklahoma shouldn't pass SQ 792. There is one argument I do agree with to a certain extent, however.

That some liquor stores will go out of business if 792 passes. Emphasis on some, with more explanation to follow. I hope, and I believe, that places like 2nd Street and Freeman's will not go out of business. We need more of those places in Oklahoma.

Unfortunately, the liquor store I happened upon last Thursday evening in Edmond is not one of those places.

It's not a store I would normally visit, but I was not taking my normal route home from work and when I passed it -- knowing I wanted to pick up some beer and a bottle of wine on the way home -- I decided to stop in because I wasn't sure if any other stores would be on the way.

When I went inside, I found a paltry beer selection. A grand total of three Oklahoma breweries were represented. Those opposed to 792 have said the beer selection at grocery stores won't be any good if the measure passes. Was this store a preview of the supposedly horrible selection I can expect at the grocery store?

The wine selection featured no discernible organization, other than reds mostly on one side and whites on the other. No signage indicated which styles were where. I was left to scan over pretty much the entire stock to find what I was looking for.

When I went to the register, I was second in line.

The man in front asked the clerk -- a middle-aged man who appeared to be an owner or manager -- what his opinion on 792 was.

The clerk at first attempted to defer, rather gruffly telling the man to read the measure and see what he thinks.

The customer pressed, saying he didn't want to read the measure, he just wanted the man's opinion.

The clerk relented. "If I told you that some other store could sell all the wine and beer that I sell here, what would you say that would do for me?"

"I would say that would probably hurt your bottom line," the customer replied.

"Well there you go," the clerk said.

And standing there listening to this conversation, I thought, "Is that your whole argument against it?" And it occurred to me that, yes, some liquor stores will go out of business when they lose a big chunk of their $10 wine sales.

And maybe that's sad. Not to sound too cold-hearted, but maybe it really isn't.

I'm thinking all this back-and-forth in my head as the man in front finishes checking out. Now it's my turn at the front. I move up and next to the counter, I see a grocery cart filled with bargain and close-out items.

Right on top is a bottle of Metaxa -- a Greek whiskey (more like fire water, as I can recall) that my dad always had around the house when I was growing up. I picked up the bottle just to see it, noticing it was covered in some serious dust.

"You want that?" the clerk said.

No, I replied, telling the clerk my dad was Greek and he used to have it around and I was just sort of admiring it.

"What's it like?" the clerk asked.

"Like fire water -- it's got some serious burn," I said out loud. In my head, I said, "YOU TELL ME! It's your store and your product! You don't even know what you're selling here? You couldn't even jump on the Internet and do some research for two minutes?"

And right then and there, the one argument from the liquor store lobby that I actually agree with -- some liquor stores will go out of business -- really became solidified as not all that important to me anymore.

(Of course, I disagree vehemently with the position that as many as half the state's liquor stores will go out of business. The math behind that assumption is fuzzy at best and based on apples-to-oranges reasoning. This, naturally, hasn't stopped anyone from making the argument repeatedly.)

After all, if you're running a retail business, you have poor selection, you make no effort to support local vendors, your store lacks organization and attention to detail, your customer service is sketchy and borderline rude and you lack knowledge about your own products, maybe you SHOULD go out of business.

Now, I understand there is a human element to this. The people who run liquor stores are not soulless, faceless nobodies. Many of the ones I've met over the years are very good people who work tremendously hard so they can pay their bills, save for their kids to go to college, and so on.

I don't WANT any of them to go out of business if 792 passes.

But in trying to move this state ahead, the possibility that some really sub-par retail establishments could close shop is not a reasonable argument for me not to support 792.

So that's where I stand. Get out and support 792.

And if you visit a liquor store with good customer service, and good selection, and they seem like they're actually happy you're in the store, and they support local vendors, remember to continue to get out and support them, too.

4 comments:

  1. Nick, if you travel the city you probably can easily find of three or more liquor stores attached to 7-11 stores within any five-mile radius. All those stores will have to close or relocate if 792 passes, because 7-11 will not allow the competition to be so close to its stores. This is fact, not speculation. The same thing will happen to other similarly situated liquor stores that are tenants next door to other convenience or grocery stores. Will relocation be a viable option to many of these stores in the face of new competition from WalMart and the convenience stores, as well as the cost of refrigeration? No. You appear to be concerned for the fate of lo, these many stores and their employees and owners, but you don't mention what effect this will have on consumers, particularly those who buy spirits. Your readers who will see their Captain Morgan or their Skyy go up $5 or $10 a bottle may come to wonder how they got bamboozled into voting for this bill of goods, just to get cold beer.

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    1. Solid argument - consumers are hurt because they have more access to the products they want.

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  2. Nick at "The Thirsty Beagle" blog is at it again (http://www.thirstybeaglebeerblog.com/)...making stuff up to justify his unwavering support of SQ 792...including repeating the lie in his FB comments section that the RLAO "walked away from the table" even though he only knows what the pro-SQ 792 people tell him (he wasn't there). Meanwhile, he's blocked the RLAO from making comments on his page so he doesn't have to worry about being directly called out in front of his readers.

    If you wonder why he might be so motivated, just take a look at his blog page (which usually lacks sponsors)...it's suddenly flush with ads...ads for "Yes on 792!"

    It's a good thing bloggers aren't considered journalists because then they'd have to at least pretend to have some integrity.

    Reject Walmart and the people they've "bought" to lie for them.
    "No" on SQ 792.

    Update: Within hours of this post going up, all of the "Yes on 792" ads had disappeared from Nick's blog site.

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