Governor Bob McDonnell proposes that Virginia sell its ABC stores to private purchasers. I’m from Michigan originally, where you can buy liquor in grocery stores, drug stores or any other store that owns a “liquor license.” So it was kind of a shock when I moved to Virginny, where you can only buy liquor in ABC stores.
And beer and wine sales are restricted to before midnight. Many times I’ve arrived at the nearest gas station five minutes late, only to find that my thirst cannot be quenched unless I drive to the nearest bar, which can legally sell alcoholic beverages until 2:00 a.m. (I think, I don’t know, because I don’t do bars…) Makes no sense to me unless they are just trying to drive up sales of beer and wine for bars and restaurants.
I can only address cost and availability anecdotally, but my poker buddies were just discussing how much cheaper they can get certain liquor in other states. Personally, I’ve been in liquor stores in other states, and they certainly have more variety. In Virginia, if it ain’t sold at the ABC store, tough shit. Out of luck. And of course, being a government-run monopoly, the ABC stores have almost bank-type hours, so good luck on buying liquor when you really need want it.
The obvious reasons for selling it are 1) the government should not be in the liquor sales business, or any other business that private enterprise could do just as well or better; and 2) the ABC stores can be sold for multiple millions of dollars, and 3) competition will ensure lower prices and better variety for the consumers.
The reasons for not selling are that the ABC stores, being a monopoly, bring in boatloads of money to the state coffers. Selling them would be giving up boatloads of money that the legislature can dole out as best helps them get and stay elected.
What strikes me as funny is that Bob McDonnell is catching hell from both ends of the political spectrum. The independent Baptists oppose the sale of the stores because they oppose the sale of liquor. [Makes perfect sense to me: I oppose liquor sales, so I want my government to do the selling. Not.] Liberal groups, not surprisingly, oppose the sale because, well, McDonnell is a conservative, and because liberals love money flowing into the government. Hey, why not take over all gas stations, or better yet all Wal-Marts, if your only goal is to have a government controlled monopoly that brings in millions each year? Oh, crap, did I just say that? Now some liberal politician out there will propose doing that very same thing.
What do all y’all think?